Retail stores are closed, runway shows have been either postponed or canceled, production lines shut down mid-project, and the apparel industry deemed “non-essential”, leaving our industry watching and waiting on the sidelines, wondering when or if we will be able to pick up where we left off. But don’t worry, this is going to be a positive article because when a bunch of passionate people have time on their hands, it’s not long before they get busy.

Our entire industry has answered the call for help in maintaining access to personal protective equipment for medical workers during this pandemic. In mid March, US health officials warned that even though manufacturers of PPE are ramping up production, the stockpiles and back-up medical equipment may still be insufficient to properly protect medical workers during their battle to fight the virus.  Around this time, local officials began to call on the public to aid in the crisis. 

Our intricate supply chains and manufacturing networks are now proving to be critical resources needed to make sure health care workers stay safe and protected, while selflessly caring for patients fighting the virus. Luxury labels, fashion conglomerates and independent designers alike are stepping up to help overcome the shortage of PPE, surgical masks and other protective equipment in some of the hardest hit areas. 

A collective of fashion industry volunteers, banding together to sew washable and reusable face masks for healthcare providers combatting the COVID-19 virus on the frontline. Double RL is just one of the many companies pledging funds and supplies to keep the work going.

As the famed Abraham Lincoln once said,

“I am a firm believer in the people. If given the truth, they can be depended upon to meet any national crisis. The great point is to bring them the real facts.” 

Once aware of the dire circumstances facing our nation’s doctors and nurses, without hesitation, many companies instantly mobilized their production teams to transition into producing PPE, masks and hand sanitizer, redirecting resources to procure the materials needed, before even signing contracts or knowing where to deliver the finished products. The National Council of Textile Organizations quickly arranged a coalition of iconic American apparel brands and textile manufacturers to come together to build a new supply chain, virtually overnight, to fast-track PPE production. Bringing together companies like Fruit of the Loom and Hanes, normally competitors in the marketplace, banding together for the greater good. 

Most of us have heard about our industries’ heavy hitters, such as LVMH, Kering, Prada, H&M and Inditex, being praised for throwing their weight behind PPE production. By leveraging their supply chain networks, they plan to secure over 45 million masks produced in China to be distributed to several European countries needing assistance like Italy, France and Spain.  

Dior has officially re-opened one of its facilities to start production on PPE for the medical community.

Although smaller brands may not have the capital or networks to secure massive donations, it has emerged that they are better equipped to quickly pivot production lines and jump-start manufacturing than large scale production operations. 

In the US, brands big and small have all taken it upon themselves to help in any way they can, whether it is by making considerable donations to organizations supporting the medical community or by physically producing masks themselves. Nepalese-American designer Prabal Gurung, who is based in New York, has also offered to help, posting on his brand’s Instagram account that he hoped this could:

“not only to fill the void of critical PPE, but mobilize our domestic partners, revitalising US producers and suppliers.” 

Greg Lauren and his team in NY shared how they are making cotton filtered air face masks.

Brands including Greg Lauren, Double RL, Raleigh Denim, Citizens of Humanity, Marques Alemida, along with many more, are all either participating in the production of PPE, donating funds and manufacturing facilities or pleading a portion of sales to support those struggling during this time.  Good Art HLYWD, a baller jeweller based in LA, have been providing copper plates for mask nose bridges, in order to effectively shape masks to the wearers face. They have also designed sterling silver “war pins” inspired by our current social situation, in which 50% of proceeds will go to helping businesses and individuals in need. 

Good Art HLYWD recently released “War Pins” to help aid businesses and individuals in need.

Here in Los Angeles, Mayor Garcetti announced a partnership called L.A. Protects, with the sustainably minded brand Reformation. The initiative aims to recruit Los Angeles’s manufacturers to produce non-medical-grade face masks out of deadstock materials, which it will distribute to the city’s non-medical but essential workers such as grocery store and pharmacy employees, who are also in dire need of protective supplies right now. The goal, according to a Reformation representative, is to produce five million masks for LA County. 

And this is where you come in… the L.A Protects initiative will be funded through purchases and donations of masks, made on the Reformation website. This is proving to be crucial for essential workers and citizens alike. The more access individuals have to non-medical grade masks, means we won’t be taking any of the precious medical-grade PPE away from the people who need it most; our nation’s healthcare workers. 

Reformation launched it’s ‘Millions of Masks’ initiative in a partnership with the City of Los Angeles, to support the new ‘LA Protects’ project.

Many have speculated that although brands and individuals were quick to start making masks from whatever materials they could find, this still won’t be sufficient protection needed to keep people safe. Lex Fridman, a research scientist at MIT, recently released his analysis on what steps were taken by countries that have successfully curbed the spread of Covid-19, and one of the main factors is that all citizens were encouraged to wear homemade or non-medical-grade masks. Countries such as Japan have been praised for their ability to effectively slow the spread of the virus and attribute a lot of that success to having a social climate in which citizens are already accustomed to wearing masks on a daily basis. This coincides with the #Masks4All movement, which originated in Slovakia, and is quickly gaining US attention. As Fridman’s assessment suggests, American’s need to accept the idea that facemasks will soon become a standard part of our visual appearance. It has been reported by the CDC as well as other medical and scientific research firms that homemade masks will work if worn by the general public; they will help slow the spread of the virus and intern, alleviate the strain on our healthcare systems. This is why it is so important that non-health care workers have access to non-medical-grade masks.

It’s been truly awe inspiring to see the rapid and positive response of brands and individuals in our industry. We here at Denim Dudes realize we are in a unique position to interact with all corners of our denim community, and have been getting a lot of questions recently about how brands and individuals can best contribute to our national crisis. We’ve done some research and found that supporting your local business and medical facilities is the best way to support and engage our communities.

Every hospital, urgent care facility and even local doctors offices need supplies, and every small business who is donating masks or selling them to the public needs your support. We’ve compiled some links below to help everyone find the info they need! Deaconess has set up a national index of all healthcare facilities that are in need of donations and how you can proceed to donate PPE. If you can’t find your local medical facilities on the Deaconess website, just go online or call! Most offices have set up a designated email address or phone line to instruct individuals on how to donate. 

Wondering how you can help? Check out these resources:

Los Angeles based donations: LA Protects

Nation Wide Donation Information: Deaconess

Nation Wide Donation Information: #GetUsPPE

Nation Wide Kaiser Permanente Donation Info: KPCOVID-19Donations@kp.org

There are so many people out there doing good these days, it’s almost impossible to highlight everyone. So take a look below to discover some of the amazing brands and individuals doing their part! Want to make your own homemade masks? Check out this tutorial by Joann’s Fabric!

California based brands:

Reformation

Citizens of Humanity

Good Art

Los Angeles Apparel

Claflin, Thayer & Co

69 Denim

Ben Venom

Stephanie Syjuco

Chelsea Lensing 

GAP

New York based brands:

Greg Lauren 

Face Mask Aid 

Double RL

Christian Siriano 

Brandon Maxwell

Prabal Gurung

CFDA 

Crystal Scrolls

North Carolina based brands:

Hudson’s Hill

Raleigh Denim

Ohio based brands:

Joann’s

Zace Denim

Texas based brands:

Neiman Marcus

Michigan based brands:

Carhartt

Oregon based brands:

Langlitz Leathers

Ship John

New Mexico based brands:

Stacy Scibelli

Connecticut based brands:

She La La

Virginia based brands:

Karla Colletto

London based brands:

Marques Almeida

Australia based brands:

Nobody Denim