The Seattle-based company is sewing over 100,000 masks, which will then be sanitized and distributed to health-care workers.
“Everyone across the globe is feeling the impacts of COVID-19 — including us at Nordstrom. During this challenging moment in time, we are looking at unique ways to help in our communities and highlighting how others can join together to make a difference,” the department store chain said in a release. “We are the largest employer of tailors in North America, so we’re learning how to leverage those capabilities to help with the medical supply shortage.”
Nordstrom is having members of its alternations team in Washington, Oregon, California and Texas sew masks. The masks will then be given to tailor partner Kaas Tailored for sanitization before being distributed to Providence Health & Services, a not-for-profit health-care system that operates hospitals in six states.
Nordstrom is also working with several organizations that are assisting with response to the coronavirus, including the Seattle Foundation, which has established a COVID-19 Response Fund. Other non-profit partners include YouthCare, which is ensuring homeless and vulnerable youths in Seattle have access to nutritious food during the crisis, and the Hetrick Martin Institute’s emergency meal service program.
As health-care workers report low supplies of personal protective equipment, numerous fashion firms and designers have offered their assistance. Neiman Marcus Group is working with Jo-Ann Fabrics to create PPE for health-care workers. High-end designers including Brandon Maxwell, Rachel Comey and Christian Siriano said they are converting their supply chains, ateliers and factories to make medical supplies. And athletic powerhouses Nike and New Balance are also beginning to make mask prototypes.
Nordstrom is one of many fashion retailers to temporarily shutter outposts amidst the coronavirus crisis. The department store has shut all U.S. and Canada units through April 5. After that, it will furlough some corporate employees for six weeks. From April to September, Erik and Pete Nordstrom will forfeit their salaries, with the executive leadership group to also forgo a portion of their salaries.
The department store chain also announced last week that it would cut costs by $500 million in operating expenses, capital expenditures and working capital, in addition to its “ongoing efforts to realign inventory to sales trends.” (Nordstrom had previously disclosed plans to trim $200–$250 million in costs during the 2020 fiscal year.) The retailer will draw down $800 million on its revolving credit facility and it has suspended its cash dividend and share repurchases.