Ever at the forefront of haute couture, Louis Vuitton, Burberry and Chanel are celebrated by fashion connoisseurs for defining style in handbags, dresses and shoes.
Now they are putting their fashion muscle and supply chain expertise behind making protective clothing for those on the front lines of the coronavirus pandemic, which has infected more than 1.9 million people and killed at least 119,000 worldwide, according to Johns Hopkins University.
The rapid spread of the virus since December has created a global scramble for protective gear, such as face masks, gloves and gowns.
French couture brand Louis Vuitton said it was joining the global effort to make more supplies to protect healthcare workers. The company, via Instagram, said it had repurposed several of its workshops across France to “produce hundreds of thousands of non-surgical face masks” for healthcare workers.
“This initiative will donate the much-needed protective gear to frontline healthcare workers. Thank you to the hundreds of artisans who have volunteered to create these masks, as well as everyone doing their part to fight this global pandemic,” the company said.
Louis Vuitton also said it was making and donating thousands of hospital gowns for six Paris hospitals in urgent need of protective gear. French financier Bernard Arnault is chairman and CEO of LVMH Moët Hennessy – Louis Vuitton.
British fashion brand Burberry, too, has pivoted part of its fashion production machinery to make masks.
The company said it was using its global supply chain “to fast-track the delivery of 100,000 surgical masks to the UK National Health Service, for use by medical staff.”
Known for its iconic coats, Burberry said it was repurposing its trench coat factory in Castleford, Yorkshire, to make non-surgical gowns and masks for patients in UK hospitals.
Another legendary French fashion house, Chanel, said it is contributing to the effort by making face masks.
The company last month said it was seeking approval for raw materials and prototypes so that its sewing specialists, who typically make the brand’s haute couture and ready-to-wear fashion collections, could start to make face masks and hospital gowns.
Last month, in Italy, one of the countries hardest hit by the coronavirus pandemic, Italian luxury fashion brand Prada started the production of 80,000 medical overalls and 110,000 masks for healthcare workers in the Tuscany region.
The company said the protective gear was being produced at a Prada factory which has stayed open specifically to make the supplies.