Whilst everyone still struggles to adapt to our new ways of life, many luxury fashion houses have begun to show their support through large donations, use of factories and manpower of skilled workers. Widespread shop closures and the decreased demand for luxury fashion has dealt a significant blow to sales across the industry. Therefore, fashion houses have turned their attention to the production and supply of the necessary support in the UK. With the continuous influx of coronavirus news filling our screens and dominating conversation, it can be hard to process all the information. So I thought I would do a bit of research and round up some of the responses by British brands to the pandemic so far.
The herald of British brands, Burberry has reported an 80% decline in sales due to the effects of Covid-19. In a statement, they revealed that they will pause production in their Yorkshire factory, best known for the creation of the classic trench coat, and use this space to manufacture hospital gowns and masks for the NHS. In turn, this would enable fast tracking of 100,000 surgical masks to NHS hospitals, help fund vaccine research at Oxford University and instigate donations to food poverty charities such as FareShare and The Felix Project.
Turnbull & Asser
Turnbull & Asser, the British shirt makers, have dedicated their skilled craftspeople in the Gloucester workshops to make gowns for the NHS. In order to create the medical-grade scrubs, the brand has brought in new machinery and uses NHS-approved fabrics. Managing director Jonathan Baker commenting, “We believe compassion is key to overcoming this historic hurdle, and we hope all employees of the National Health Service are able to feel truly appreciated for all their hard work. In turning our hand to the production of scrubs, we hope to do our bit in expressing that gratitude.” 4,000 medical scrubs are in process now and soon to be on the frontline.
Barbour has also turned their efforts to support those on the front line. They started by manufacturing disposable gowns for the Royal Vitoria Infirmary in Newcastle, the first hospital to deal with patients with the virus. They are now looking to increase production to provide scrubs for as many NHS workers in the north east as possible. Margaret Barbour explains, “The factory where we normally make our classic wax jackets is no stranger to adaptation. During both World Wars, we turned the factory over to make military garments to assist the war effort. We are pleased to once again be able to make a difference and this time, to support the NHS.”
This may only highlight the particular efforts of three British brands, however there has been widespread reaction within the fashion industry, with brands across the nation turning their focus to support. Let’s hope when we come out the other side of this crisis, and sales begin to soar once more, British fashion brands can look back with admiration at their efforts to pitch in and support their loyal customers, in a time when they needed it most.
by Annabel Rodick