Hospitals and first responders are facing a shortage of personal protective equipment, so some of the most recognizable names in fashion are stepping up to help.
Hanes Brands, which is known for making cotton basics ranging from T-shirts to underwear, is now converting its factories to produce cotton face masks in the United States. The company said its mask design was approved for use by the Food and Drug Administration when N95 respirator masks are not required or are unavailable.
Matt Hall, a spokesperson for Hanes, told TODAY Style that Hanes is sharing its design with Fruit of the Loom, SanMar, Beverly Knits and the National Council of Textile Organizations, as part of an effort led by yarn manufacturer Parkdale Mills America.
"The company expects to ramp up to production of 1.5 million masks weekly, and the consortium as whole is expected to ramp up to production of 5 million to 6 million masks weekly using Hanes Brands’ design and patterns," Hall said in an email.
Gap Inc., which is headquartered in San Francisco, also said it's ready to help. The company, which also owns brands such as Athleta, Banana Republic and Old Navy, is pivoting resources in some of its factories to help making masks, gowns and scrubs for medical workers.
The retailer also said it is connecting some of its vendors with hospitals in California to help deliver millions of much-needed masks, gowns and other supplies.
"Gap Inc. is still ironing out the details, but is looking at all opportunities to support its communities right now," the company said in a news release.
Brooks Brothers, which usually makes ties, shirts and suits at its factories, is converting facilities in New York, North Carolina and Massachusetts to produce masks and gowns. The retailer said it expects to be able to make 150,000 masks per day.
Fast Retailing, the parent company of Uniqlo, is working with manufacturing partners in China to make 10 million protective masks. At least 1 million of those masks will be donated to hospitals in the United States, the company said.
Neiman Marcus' sewing team has also been making scrubs for medical workers using fabric donated from Joann Fabrics & Crafts.
There are also several major efforts in Europe.
In Italy, which has been hit hard by the coronavirus, Giorgio Armani's factories are now producing single-use medical overalls, the company said on its Facebook page.
H&M is working with its supply chain partners to quickly produce personal protective equipment for hospitals in Europe.
"We see this is as a first step in our efforts to support in any way we can. We are all in this together, and have to approach this as collectively as possible," said Anna Gedda, head of the H&M sustainability group.
Inditex, the parent company of Zara, is helping to make masks for first responders in the country. The company based in Galicia, Spain, said in a statement that it is also looking into making hospital gowns. Spain has the fourth highest number of cases, after China, Italy and the United States.
French luxury company The Kering Group also dedicated some of its factories to help fight the deadly virus in France.The company said it will import 3 million masks from China.
"Meanwhile, the French workshops of Kering’s Houses Balenciaga and Saint Laurent are preparing to manufacture masks while complying with the strictest health protection measures for their staff members, with production getting underway as soon as the manufacturing process and materials have been approved by the relevant authorities," the company's website said.
"Project Runway" mentor and fashion magnate Christian Siriano is also making it work. The New York-based designer volunteered last week to have his sewing team make much-needed masks for the state, which has been the epicenter of the outbreak in the U.S.
Siriano shared an update showing prototypes, which needs approval for use before his team starts making more.
"Thanks everyone for all the support. We are making waves and working on getting approvals before we start anything," he wrote on March 21. "It’s very important before anyone does anything to help, please make sure what you are making is safe and hopefully FDA approved. We must be smart."
This story was first published March 23.