For These Companies, It Is Business As Usual, But With Purpose

These groups are back to business, but this time, they are taking social responsibility and responding to the surging demand for medical supplies.

It is no surprise that companies continue to experience great economic loss in this crisis. Luxury brands are no exemption, with conglomerates losing billions in the past month alone. While most businesses remain closed during the lockdown, others courageously reopened when business owners witnessed the need to reach out, especially to front line workers.

You may have heard of beauty and fashion brands that opened their shops and ateliers. However, rather than releasing their usual products, they temporarily shifted production into supplying necessities for the lockdown. From disinfectants to personal protective equipment, these companies prioritize helping people battle through the coronavirus outbreak. It is business as usual to them, but they are serving a greater purpose in this time of crisis.

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Project Runway Season 4 winner and well-loved designer Christian Siriano called over his sewing team and staff to produce face masks. (Photos from Christian’s Instagram)

Shifting the Production

Who would’ve imagined workshops of luxury fashion groups would be transformed into manufacturing protective equipment? A few months ago, the idea would’ve seemed far-fetched. Yet it became the reality now, resulting from the great need to do what people can in this crisis that affects everyone. Brands like Chanel started producing face masks in response to the shortage of supplies in France. Well-loved designer Christian Siriano who, upon learning of the scarcity in masks, volunteered for his sewing team and staff to help. Other fashion houses like Burberry, Prada, and Kering-owned Yves Saint Laurent and Balenciaga followed suit. They will be producing these much-needed face masks and medical overalls as well.

LMVH produces hand sanitizer gels. (Photo from LMVH Instagram)

While other groups focused on producing protective supplies, beauty brands shifted to manufacturing sanitizers. To support French health authorities and hospitals, LVMH with its Maisons Givenchy, Dior, and Guerlain, produced hand sanitizer gels. Similarly, Jo Malone, Estee Lauder, Clarins, and L’Occitane have temporarily turned their factories into creating these disinfectants.

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(Photo from James Tye/Getty Images)
Airon-licensed Model A-E ventilator. (Photo from The Ford Motor Company)

The High-Stakes Race

Car manufacturers and engineering companies are joining the fashion and beauty brands in this large-scale effort. They are responding to the surging demand for ventilators, especially in the United States. These machines assist in the proper breathing of Covid-19-affected patients. Presently, it is a race for firms to manufacture these devices, as the US needs an estimate of 55,000 ventilators mid-April. What more for the rest of the world? However, experts warn against rushing to release devices. It is an enormous task after all, and companies must be cautious against committing mistakes.

Ford and General Electric (GE) collaborated to remodel the existing Airon and Ventec ventilation from Florida and Seattle, respectively. Despite the initial skepticism, there is confidence with Ford as they have a history of creating an effective, portable incubator in 1941. Premature births leading to deaths were common at that time. Fortunately, Ford’s designers were able to quickly design and produce the incubator to respond to the situation.

Renowned engineering firm Dyson and The Technology Partnership also collaborated to design a new ventilator called CoVent. The United Kingdom government already ordered 10,000 machines. Although it is still a prototype and requires approval, there are high hopes for them. Dyson may not have medical experience yet it has a relevant background on the production of vacuum cleaners that carry the same mechanism with ventilators.

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Workshop in Italy producing cotton face masks. (Photo from Miguel Medina/Getty Images)

These conglomerates stepped up to help front liners, providing them with much-needed support. Along with the reopening of their businesses, they are also helping their own employees and staff to survive this crisis. With the sweeping impact of Covid-19 across the globe, there is no doubt that more individuals and groups will join the ongoing large-scale fight.

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