Crises can bring people together and, if nothing else, the coronavirus pandemic has proved that individuals and companies alike are capable of rallying together for the common good. A couple of designer clothing magnates in particular have signalled their commitment to boosting relief efforts by utilising their companies’ infrastructure to alleviate the shortage of surgical garb.
Megalithic luxury goods group LVMH – the multinational corporation behind Christian Dior and Louis Vuitton – has commissioned a Chinese supplier to produce 40 million health masks. The first batch of 10 million will be distributed to French healthcare authorities, thereafter, they will be allocated to appropriate parties. LVMH’s chief executive Bernard Arnault has said they will also produce hand sanitiser and deliver it to French hospitals, sans charge.
In a similar vein, French luxury group Kering – Gucci, Yves Saint Laurent, Balenciaga, Alexander McQueen – has undertaken to produce more than one million masks and 50,000 medical overalls in Italy, via Gucci. France-based Yves Saint Laurent and Balenciaga will follow suit, subject to getting the go-ahead from local medical authorities.
Joining the fight against the coronavirus, Prada – which has already donated complete intensive care units to hospitals in Milan – has committed to donating 110,000 masks and 80,000 medical overalls. The Italian luxury brand will produce them in house at its Montone factory and aims to deliver them on April 6.
Over the last few days, more and more multinationals have announced that they will be donating funds and resources to global relief efforts. Giorgio Armani has pledged £1.25-million to various hospitals. Ralph Lauren has pledged $10-million. Moncler has proffered £10-million towards the construction of a new hospital in Lombardy, the region that has been worst-affected by the outbreak in Italy. Nike is donating $15-million to various foundations that support the infrastructure in the areas where their employees live and work, including the Oregon Food Bank and the Oregon Health & Science University.
Tech giants Apple, Facebook and Tesla have also undertaken to help those in need during the Covid-19 crisis in US and Europe. Apple has pledged to donate “millions of surgical masks”, Facebook has pledged 750,000 masks, while working on raising more donations, and Tesla has pledged 250,000 N95 masks, as well as dedicating resources to make ventilators for hospitals.
It is laudable - and uplifting - that these brands have taken it upon themselves to use their resources to help those affected by the pandemic. One can only hope that major South African brands will emulate them and apply their money and their minds to social good.
• Additional reporting by Wanted reporter. This article was last updated 27 March 2020.