For all the havoc Covid-19 has caused around the world, the fashion industry pulled together to offer relief efforts, demonstrating they can be a force for good as much as change. Smaller businesses pivoted to manufacture face masks or donated a portion of profits to local communities. Others, like conglomerate Kering, provided millions of euros in support to regional hospitals, national health systems and even the World Health Organisation.
In regions where the virus struck early on, Kering responded swiftly. Back in January the French luxury group and its houses made a donation of 7.5 million RMB (approximately 1 million euros) to the Hubei Red Cross Foundation to help reduce the spread of the virus. In Italy, one of the worst affected countries in March, the Group gave two million euros to the country’s four major hospitals when they were unable to cope with the influx of Covid-19 positive patients.
Gucci launched separate crowdfunding projects in the same month, supported by two further donations. Bottega Veneta, another of the Group’s Italian Houses, supported medium- and long-term medical research by funding several scholarships at three research institutions. Menswear label Brioni launched the ‘Team Filo Rosso’ project, producing 30,000 face masks a week at its factory in Montebello di Bertona.
In France Kering donated 3 million surgical masks its national health services and financed the purchase of 3D printers for the Paris hospital authority so it could rapidly produce large quantities of protective equipment and medical supplies. It also made contributions to a project supplying smartphones and hometech to France’s most isolated groups in society, particularly elderly people in care homes and patients who had been separated from their loved ones.
Of course Kering isn’t the only conglomerate who showed its benevolent side. LVMH converted its fragrance and cosmetics production facilities in France to produce hand sanitizer gel, also donated to the French health authorities. Some ended up on eBay and luxury re-sellers.
Remake, a global movement turning fashion into something good, launched the #PayUp campaign, calling on brands to pay suppliers and factories for orders that had been commissioned pre-outbreak. The campaign is a crucial step in ensuring that the financial burden is spread more fairly and not all borne by supply chains, which often affects workings in developing countries. Companies including PVH, H&M, Zara and Target all made the commitment to fulfil any pre-pandemic orders.
Supporting all its communities
In a statement Kering said lockdown and social distancing should not mean total isolation and being completely inward-looking. The Group and its Houses decided to not forgo inspiration in a time of need, which saw Bottega Veneta debut the Bottega Residency, a platform for creative expression and artists, and Kering forge a collaboration with illustrator Soledad, where shareable images with messages of love were made available via its website and social channels.
Image courtesy Kering