The Coronavirus crisis has shaken the world in ways we never imagine possible into today’s society over the past few months. There are currently over 600,000 cases of COVID -19 worldwide and around 33,000 deaths, a number that is growing by the hour. These cases have swept across the globe, from China to the Middle East to Europe, America and the rest of the world, no one is exempt and no one is immune.
In unprecedented times there is a need for us all to come together and support hospital staff and key workers that, despite being at risk themselves, are still continuing to work in order to help the lives of others. We know that some countries are suffering hugely. Italy and Spain, for example, have seen deaths rise at an unthinkable rate, and despite great healthcare systems and support from the government, there is no stopping the virus.
It is moments like this that we all realise what matters and the world comes together in solidarity. Many fashion houses will undoubtedly be suffering economically thanks to the closure of stores, malls, manufacturers, distribution systems and more, however, in a mark of support to the ongoing pandemic and the huge crisis in countries, many fashion houses and their parent companies have pledged donations and assistance to those most in need. As the fight goes on there’s no doubt the donations will continue, but here we discover what the luxury world has done so far to help in the fight against COVID-19.
LVMH Group made an initial 2.2 million dollar donation to The Red Cross Society of China in the early stages of the coronavirus outbreak. Then as things started to develop in Europe the group upped the ante and decided to make more meaningful donations. Given the risk of a shortage of hydroalcoholic gel in France, Bernard Arnault instructed the LVMH perfumes and cosmetics business to produce substantial quantities of the gel in its production facilities. This includes the production facilities of Christian Dior, Guerlain and Parfums Givenchy.
Each of these sites currently producing large quantities of hydroalcoholic gel which can be used to sanitise hospitals, surfaces and individuals throughout France. The gel is being distributed, free of charge to the French health authorities and as a priority to the public hospital in Paris. LVMH is honouring this commitment for as long as is necessary under the guidance of the French health authorities. It was also announced on 21st March that LVMH would order 40 million surgical face masks from China to be distributed in France.
Valentino’s parent company Mayhoola has become the latest fashion business to join Italy’s fight against COVID-19. The company, which also owns Balmain and Pal Zileri will assist in the donation of a negative pressure ventilation installation at the Sacco Hospital in Milan. This will help to improve the efficiency and security of this key hospital in Italy which is currently really struggling due to the number of patients requiring intensive care. The new negative pressure ventilation installation will allow medical staff to safely assist coronavirus patients and help to secure the safety of the hospital staff.
Mayhoola worked with Alessandro Visconti, General Manager at ASTT Fatebenefratelli Sacco Hospital, and Dr Emanuele Catena, in charge of the Anaesthesia Department and Intensive Care Unit (ICU), in order to entirely cover all expenses related to one of the many urgencies that the Lombardy Health Care System has been facing. This was done through a donation of 1 million euros from the company. We are very close to the Italian population and we are constantly monitoring the evolution of the pandemic in the country. We are pained to see what is happening in Milan and we strongly hope that this decisive action can help the doctors and their teams of Sacco Hospital.” Said a spokesperson for Mayhoola.
Armani was one of the first fashion houses to be affected by the Coronavirus outbreak when after the designer was forced to hold his fall/winter 2020 show without an audience in Milan earlier this year, so it’s true that the house was feeling the effects of this pandemic from an early stage. As the pandemic started to spread rapidly Giorgio Armani gave 1.25 million Euros to numerous Italian hospitals and institutions that are involved in treating patients with COVID-19. Furthermore, on 20th March 2020, the designer took a full-page advert in 60 of Italy’s newspapers, writing a letter to all of the healthcare providers helping to fight against the disease. The publications included some of the most highly circulated print newspapers in Italy as well as regional papers in some of the areas with the most reported cases. Part of the letter read; “It is moving to see you engaged in your work with all the difficulties and the great efforts that by now all the world knows. And especially to see you cry… All of the Giorgio Armani company is tuned in to this reality and is close to all of you: from the stretcher-bearer to the nurse, from the family doctor to all of the specialists in the sector. I am personally close to you.”
On March 28th it was announced that Armani Group would switch all of its Italian production plants to manufacturing single-use medical overalls to be used for the protection of healthcare workers.
On January 28th when the coronavirus was still confined to China, Paris-based group Kering which owns fashion houses including Gucci, Saint Laurent and Balenciaga made a donation to the Hubei Red Cross Foundation to help stop the spread of the virus. As things started to worsen the group stepped up its help by making donations to the four major foundation hospitals in the worst affected regions of Italy.
This was followed on 22nd March with the news that a number of Kering’s high-end fashion labels would begin producing face masks to ease shortages during the coronavirus crises. Workshops and production sites usually in place to produce clothing and accessories will be converted into factories for face masks for the foreseeable future. Kering said it would also give the French health service three million surgical masks which it planned to buy and import from China, while Gucci will produce and donate 1.1 million masks and 55,000 medical overalls to hospitals in Italy.
As the coronavirus started to spread into Europe, Italian fashion house Dolce & Gabbana joined forces with Humanitas University in Milan to fund a study that aims to clarify the response of the immune system to coronavirus SARS-CoV-2, which causes COVID-19. The private Italian university is dedicated to the medical sciences and this particular study is led by Scientific Director and Emeritus Professor of the university, Professor Alberto Mantovani who is hoping that his work can help the development of diagnostic and therapeutic interventions, which will help in the fight against the virus. “We felt we had to do something to fight this devastating virus, which started in China but is threatening all mankind. In these cases, it is important to make the right choice. This is why we thought Humanitas University would be the ideal partner, whose excellence and humanity make it a special entity, with which we have already cooperated on a scholarship project,” Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana said in a statement.
Donatella Versace, Chief Creative Officer of Versace and her daughter Allegra Versace Beck became the latest members of the Italian fashion industry to pledge a donation towards Italy’s fight against the Coronavirus. The two donated 200,000 Euros to the intensive care department of San Raffaele hospital in Milan. Versace said in a joint statement with her daughter Allegra; “in times like these, it is important to be united and support however we can to help those in the front lines, fighting every day to save hundreds of lives. This is why Allegra and I have decided to make a personal donation of 200,000 euros to the intensive care department of San Raffaele hospital in Milan. Our hearts go out to all those who have been affected by this disease and to all the doctors and medical staff who have been working heroically non-stop in the past weeks in the effort to take care of our loved ones. This is when we, as a society, need to stand together and care for one another.”
Back in February Bvlgari made a donation of an undisclosed amount to the Spallanzani hospital in Rome to allow the research department to isolate the disease and purchase new equipment to help assist in the research on this virus. Jean-Christophe Babin, Bvlgari CEO attended a ribbon-cutting ceremony at the National Institute of Infectious Diseases to unveil a new 3D microscope, a fundamental tool for research in connection of COVID-19. The new state-of-the-art microscopic image acquisition system is the first to be installed in the city of Rome and will allow researchers to carry out innovative experimental research protocols. “We are conscious that the donation is a first small drop in the ocean of research which has to be conducted, but thanks to the wonderful people who are working on it day and night with incredible optimism, we are sure that in the weeks to come, we will make giant steps to contain first and then eradicate COVID-19, not only from Italy but from the rest of the world,” said Jean-Christophe Babin, CEO of Bvlgari.
On March 27th Bvlgari announced that it has intensified its support to Italian authorities to fight Covid-19 with a donation of hand cleansing gel with sanitizer produced by its long-term fragrance-manufacturing partner, ICR.
Richemont the Swiss luxury group which owns Vacheron Constantin, Cartier, Van Cleef & Arpels and many more, reportedly pledged 1.4 million dollars to combat COVID-19. The donation was made when the virus first began in China and was made with the aim to help stop the spread across the globe.
Italian shoemaker Sergio Rossi contributed more than $100,000 to the Fatebenefratelli and Luigi Sacco hospitals in Milan to assist in the care of coronavirus patients. Furthermore, from 14th to 20th March the brand donated 100 per cent of the proceeds made on sergiorossi.com to the fight against COVID-19. Sergio Rossi asked its shoppers past and present to post their Sergio Rossi shoes on social media accounts with the hashtags #iorestoacasa #stayhome and #shoesmakeadifference in order to raise awareness of the campaign and encourage others to shop.
The Italian fashion house announced in a statement that the company’s co-CEOs Patrizio Bertelli and Miuccia Prada, and chairman Carlo Mazzi had personally donated six intensive care and resuscitation units to three hospitals in Milan. Furthermore, it converted the production in its Italy-based factory to supply 80,000 medical overalls and 110.000 masks to healthcare personnel. The house will keep the factory open just for this purpose and count on the support of a range of external suppliers to guarantee daily deliveries to hospitals.
The Zegna family together with senior members of The Zegna Group have pledged personal donations totalling three million Euros to the Civil Protection in Italy to help support healthcare workers in the frontline, fighting tirelessly to fight this pandemic.
The Zegna Group has also converted part of its production facilities in Italy and Switzerland to the manufacturing of medical masks. This will provide critical supplies to both Zegna’s employees and to the wider needs in Italy and Switzerland. The Zegna Group has also made a direct financial contribution to provide several hospitals with ventilators and medical masks. Gildo Zegna, CEO of Ermenegildo Zegna said in a statement; “at Zegna we believe our actions today will shape our tomorrow. The pandemic we are all facing is a call for people around the world to take action. Each of us must do our part, in every way possible, to stop this global emergency.”
Moncler has donated 10 million euros to a new hospital that is being erected in Milan to treat patients affected by COVID-19. The hospital is expected to feature more than 400 intensive care units. “Milan is a city that has given us all an extraordinary [life],” said Moncler chairman and chief executive officer Remo Ruffini in a statement. “We cannot and must not abandon it. It is everyone’s duty to give back to the city what it has given us so far. I have expressed to the councillor Giulio Gallera the will to work on this great project from the moment it was imagined and now that there are reasonable certainties on the feasibility, we are ready to support it. I am sure that the team of the Region of Lombardy, also facilitated by the experience of Guido Bertolaso [who is consulting with Lombardy’s governor Attilio Fontana], can bring this great initiative to become a reality as soon as possible.”
As well as producing medical clothing in its production facilities on 26th March Gucci announced that it would be making two separate donations totally two million euros to crowdfunding campaigns. One, locally in Italy for the Italian Civil Protection Department (Protezione Civile) in partnership with Intesa Sanpaolo; and the second globally, for the COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund in support of the World Health Organization, through a matching campaign with Facebook.
In Italy, Gucci also announced a crowdfunding page gucci.forfunding.it where their community can also make donations. The funds will be allocated by the Italian National Civil Protection Department, to reinforce Italy’s health services and organizations managing the emergency, with the creation of new ICU beds as a priority.
Globally one million euros will be given to The United Nations Foundation’s COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund in support of the World Health Organization (WHO) through a Facebook US$10 million matching fundraiser. The COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund’s aim is to support WHO’s lifesaving work across countries, including to help track and understand the spread of the virus, to strengthen patient care and ICUs, to improve supplies for health personnel, including of protection devices, and to accelerate the development of vaccines and therapies. The House’s social media channels and Gucci.com will also feature links to donate to both crowdfunding initiatives.
“By supporting each other and helping those who are most vulnerable among us, we will be able to overcome this crisis: united, even more than before,” said Alessandro Michele, Creative Director of Gucci, and Marco Bizzarri, President and CEO of Gucci in a letter announcing the initiative to the company’s employees around the world.
Giuseppe Santoni is leading entrepreneurs from the Italian region of Marche which has suffered immensely due to Coronavirus through a fundraising campaign designed to support those suffering in the region. #NoiSiamoLeMarche aims to support the territory through strengthening the intensive care units of the local hospitals so that they are able to provide care to the affected people.
Giuseppe Santoni, CEO and Founder of Santoni Shoes said in a statement; “Marche is the region I belong to, the region where my family, my company, my people are grounded. A beautiful territory, that is currently suffering due to Coronavirus. Now, I want to give to this region that has always given so much to me.”
Ralph Lauren Corporate Foundation
Across the pond, as coronavirus begins to penetrate in The United States Ralph Lauren has joined in the fight against the disease. The Ralph Lauren Corporate Foundation is donating $10 million to help its teams and partners impacted by the coronavirus pandemic. The donation will firstly provide financial grants through the Emergency Assistance Foundation for Ralph Lauren colleagues facing special circumstances like medical and childcare needs. It will also contribute to the World Health Organization COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund, a global effort supporting countries to prevent, detect, and respond to the pandemic. Furthermore, it will commit a gift to the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA) for COVID-19 relief to support the American fashion community impacted by the pandemic. In addition, the company is starting the production of 250,000 masks and 25,000 isolation gowns with its U.S. manufacturing partners.
“We recognize that this is an unprecedented, multifaceted crisis which demands different responses for different needs in different places. That is why we are funding multiple activities to support our teams, our partners and our communities around the world,” said Patrice Louvet, President and Chief Executive Officer. “As we move through this challenging time, we are focused on continuing to be the beacon of optimism and unity that Ralph Lauren and our brands have always been.”