Videos and stories from the frontline of healthcare are heartbreaking and scary, to say the least, but, in these tough times, there are always those who pitch in to help, offering everyone a sliver of positivity. As quarantines have come into effect and temporary hospitals have been set up, everyone from behemoth brands to local pizza spots have been doing their bit to make hand sanitizer, provide food to doctors and nurses working tirelessly and even equip them with a good set of pyjamas to relax in.
Now, many manufacturers in our niche such as New Balance, Gitman Bros and Winter Session are stepping up to help the relief effort. It can’t be ignored that most of these labels are ones who’ve fought to maintain some kind of domestic production, meaning that anything they do make will get to those who need it faster.
Read on for a selection of brands who are making a difference.
“Yesterday we crafted real shoes, today we craft sterile surgical masks” declares Allen Edmonds. Following the donation of medical-grade materials, the 98-year-old footwear house has shifted its entire production to masks for hospitals in its local Wisconsin area.
Meanwhile, in New York, North Carolina and Massachusetts, Brooks Brothers has switched its production from shirts, ties and suits to gowns and masks, turning out around 150,000 of the latter every day. “We are deeply grateful to the medical personnel at the frontlines who are fighting the pandemic, and we are honored to do our part and join our peers in retail to provide protective masks that our healthcare system critically needs” the brand’s CEO explains.
We can’t fault New Balance’s “all hands on deck” approach (nor its on-point ad campaigns, like this one). That’s right, the sneaker maker created prototypes for masks at its Lawrence, Massachusetts workshop and is about to give the green light to its New England manufacturing spot to get them on-the-go soon too.
Heritage shirtmaker Gitman Bros has paused the production of button-downs in Pennsylvania in order to manufacture medical-grade gowns. The brand says it’s been in touch with state officials and the PA governor to ensure they have the right supplies for the task.
Winter Session x Heddels
An interesting one here—we’ve partnered with Winter Session to recruit remote seamsters to help sew masks, since we don’t have the kind of large-scale production options that other brands might. Just last week, the Denver-based maker shipped 1000 kits of materials to locals and will be organizing the collection of the finished products along with distribution to local health centers.
We’re going to be updating on this one extensively as we’re as intimately involved with the project as one could be. For now, check out the video we made to instruct our remote sewers (and you!) if you’ve got a machine to use at home. If you’re in the Denver-area, we’d love to have you sew, sign up via our new website Cover Up Colorado.
Wrangler and Lee
The parent company of denim legends Lee and Wrangler, Kontoor Brands Inc., has repurposed a production facility in the U.S. to make gowns for hospitals in the North Carolina region, as well as making a donation to local food banks.
Starting this month, workwear expert Carhartt will begin production of gowns and masks to equip US healthcare professionals with the kit they need; the brand says, “from the very beginning, Carhartt has existed to serve and protect the hardworking people. That’s something that will never change.”
Setting a great example of how other large brands can help the relief effort, Ralph’s Corporate Foundation has pledged more than $10 million to help communities affected by the coronavirus pandemic, and is partnering with its US production facilities to make 250,000 masks and 25,000 isolation gowns.
In addition, the founder himself will forgo this fiscal year’s bonus and his entire salary for the next to help keep others on the payroll.
Of course, not all labels can restructure their supply chains to make masks or repurpose their workshops, but many are still playing their part. The Frye Company will donate $10 from every purchase of its boots to Feeding America, while sustainable brand Everlane has pledged that if you buy anything from its 100% Human line, then all profits will go to the same charity’s relief efforts.
Apothecary labels are getting involved too—Pacific Shaving Company donated 100% of its profits from the last two weeks in March to the CDC Foundation.
With virus cases soaring every day, it’s easy to lose sight of those all-important positive vibes, so we hope this list serves up some inspiration and proof that when times get tough, communities really do pull together. Stay safe out there, folks!
Do you know of any other brands helping out? We’d love to include them! Please mention in the comments or let us know at info at heddels dot com.