Mr. Charney and Mr. Siriano are each designing their own washable, reusable masks. They are not “medical grade,” though Mr. Siriano intends to make masks that meet F.D.A. standards as soon as he can acquire approved materials and patterns, and begin prototyping. Karla Colletto is planning to replicate masks made by 3M, using patterns and fabric sent from that long-established hospital supplier.
The moves follow the decision by LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton, the European luxury giant, and L’Oreal and Coty, the beauty conglomerates, to use their facilities to produce large quantities of hand sanitizer for European hospitals. In Spain, Inditex, the parent company of Zara, is also looking into refitting its textile factories to make hospital gowns.
As an industry, fashion has been particularly affected by the mass business closings — and particularly active in offering resources to assist the fight against the coronavirus, stepping up as governments and the medical community scramble to respond to the crisis. In the same way automotive factories and upholsterers were retooled during World War II to supply the military, fashion is rethinking its manufacturing capabilities.
The Swimwear Story
“A week ago, our machines were humming along,” Karla Colletto said via phone on Saturday. During normal business times, her Vienna, Va., factory can produce 800 to 1,000 pieces of swimwear each week.
But like many other companies, as the coronavirus diagnosis count rose in the United States, the made-to-order swimwear company decided to cease production. Ten percent of its orders had already been canceled and the rest postponed, said Lisa Rovan, a co-founder of the brand, with Ms. Colletto.
Yet as their facility went dark, Ms. Colletto and Ms. Rovan were formulating a plan to bring as many of their 40 factory employees (including two dozen sewers) as possible back to work making masks and gowns for hospitals in need.