Gov. Andrew Cuomo spoke, and designers listened.
After the governor said in his press conference Sunday that he would be asking the state’s manufacturers to aid in efforts to produce more medical supplies like masks, gloves and hospital gowns, more designers announced that they would join the efforts to convert their supply chains, ateliers and factories to make medical supplies. Brandon Maxwell, Prabal Gurung and Rachel Comey have all joined the growing list of independent designers taking part in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic, proving that it’s not just conglomerates that can help.
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The PG team has been working tirelessly over the course of the last week to finalize an actionable plan to manufacture PPE for medical workers and first responders who are on the front lines of the COVID-19 crisis. As a brand that produces over 90% of our collections in NY, our goal is not only to fill the void of critical PPE, but to mobilize our domestic partners, revitalizing US producers and suppliers. While we are eager to share our progress with you all, the Coronavirus crisis is ever evolving, and as new information is revealed, so are new FDA and state regulations. In this moment, credible and validated information is of the utmost importance for the advancement of all COVID-19 relief efforts. We are currently working in partnership with @nygovcuomo office & local hospitals to secure clearance to produce, and ensure the viability of our output. More updates to follow!
Monday, Prabal Gurung announced on the brand’s Instagram account that it is pivoting to make personal protective equipment (PPE). “As a brand that produces over 90% of our collections in NY, our goal is not only to fill the void of critical PPE, but to mobilize our domestic partners, revitalizing U.S. producers and suppliers,” the posted stated. “We are currently working in partnership with Governor Cuomo’s office and local hospitals to secure clearance to produce, and ensure the viability of our output.”
Rachel Comey asked other designers and manufacturers to join in the effort. “Hello, Fellow Local Manufacturers. Reach out to these emails to discuss manufacturing needs. Currently from us in fashion, they need gowns. COVID19supplies@esd.ny.gov, email@example.com, ” the designer wrote on her Instagram page, fielding questions from others on measurements and patterns. In another post, Comey showed an instructional video from her patternmaker detailing how nonmedical workers can make masks from old fabric scraps and add their own filters.
In his press conference, Cuomo noted that he was already in discussion with manufacturers in his state and had told them to shift production capabilities. “I have apparel manufacturers who I am asking to stop making dresses, to start making the masks that people wear,” the governor said Sunday. “This is what the federal government should be doing, and they should be doing it with their federal authority under the Defense Production Act.”
Christian Siriano was one of the first designers to shift his team’s efforts toward medical supply manufacturing, and when he announced the move on Twitter last week, Cuomo took note. “Appreciate his help so much. Who’s next?” the governor replied.
Late last week, Brandon Maxwell also announced that his atelier would be shifting efforts to manufacturing hospital gowns. “We have spent the last week researching the appropriate medical textiles to create these gowns. … As more information becomes available on how to manufacture medical-grade masks and gloves, we will transition in to doing so.”
It isn’t just New York-based designers who are heeding the call. On Monday morning, Los Angeles designer Michael Costello announced that he would be making 20,000 protective face masks, partnering with a Calabasas manufacturer with specialized machinery to produce a cotton-nylon blend mask that offers a 70–74% air filtration effectiveness rate (surgical-grade masks have a 97% effectiveness). “I believe it’s our civic duty to help, so we are shifting our entire focus,” said Costello. “
This post will be updated as other designers join the effort.