In times as difficult as these, fraught with the global uncertainty about what tomorrow will bring, talking about fashion may seem frivolous. Yet when you think to the wider picture, the fashion industry alone pumps over £30b into the UK economy, employing around 555,000 people across the country in a broad range of fields; from journalists and art directors to textile makers and retail workers. And right now, the whole of the industry is bound up with an inescapable uncertainty. Whether you’re an independent designer who has had their orders halted, or a freelance stylist unable to call in looks for an upcoming shoot – there’s an overwhelming question of what happens next? How do we move on from this? It’s difficult in moments like this for one not to wallow in the worries about their own future. Yet within the fashion community, there has been a promising surge in creatives offering help to those who need it most.
Everyone from designers Donatella Versace and Giorgio Armani, to luxury conglomerates Bulgari, Richemont and Kering, have each done their bit through a slew of donations to hospitals, charities, and researchers working on finding a cure to the virus. LVMH, who has also donated £1.8 million to The Red Cross Society of China, has also halted the production of some of their cosmetics and perfumes, using their factories wto produce large quantities of alcohol-based hand sanitisers. Miuccia Prada, alongside her company’s co-CEO Patrizio Bertelli and company chairman Carlo Mazzi, has provided two complete intensive care and resuscitation units across the three biggest hospitals in Milan.
Though not all fashion houses are able to donate on such big scale, smaller brands and independent designers are most definitely not sitting back and twiddling their thumbs. Just this morning, sustainable menswear designer Phoebe English made an Instagram announcement that she and her team are willing to help combat the shortage of medical masks across the NHS. A similar approach has been taken by a selection of fashion students studying at Umprum Academy in Prague, who are showing the potential use of their skills by creating masks from deadstock fabrics donated from the Textile Mountain, as reported by Sarah Mower.
Caring for the wellbeing of people during such difficult times doesn’t just stop at monitoring physical health. Luxury Scottish cashmere company Begg & Co launched Our Comfort Blanket this week, an online platform which packed with tips and advice on keeping optimistic and staying healthy as social distancing becomes increasingly implemented by governments across the globe. The brand will also use this platform to promote some uplifting content – such as book recommendations, meditation pointers and a rotating playlist of blissful jams.
As a touching tribute to Italy, where there have been over 22,000 reported cases of the virus across the country, 58 creatives have joined forces in the latest issue of Vanity Fair to discuss their relationships with the city of Milan. Call Me by Your Name director Luca Guadagnino talks of coming to Milan for the first time when he was 16, whilst Mrs. Prada took the opportunity to discuss how the city, which is still her home today, has taught her “seriousness, ethics.” In such dark times, The issue is a much-needed sense of Milanese patriotism and will be freely available across the capital and the whole of the Lombardy region.
Over the coming days, there’s no doubt that more brands and companies will step up and offer a helping hand where needed. There’s a definite strength in numbers, and although the wider population may be reclusing into mass isolation, we must stay united.
PHOTO: Getty Images/ Edward Berthelot
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