Louis Vuitton switches production to make face masks and gowns to help curb the spread of coronavirus

·4 min read

Louis Vuitton is the latest designer brand to focus its efforts towards helping in the battle against the spread of the coronavirus pandemic, by switching production of bags and fashion for face masks and gowns.

The French fashion house has reopened a number of its production sites in order to manufacture protective face masks and gowns for health workers.

With thousands of key workers still in need of non-surgical face masks and personal protective equipment (PPE) to help curb the spread of COVID-19, last week Louis Vuitton announced that it will repurpose its workshops across France to make hundreds of thousands more.

Two seamstresses from Louis Vuitton put together a coat-jacket to be worn by nurses helping to treat those with coronavirus. (Getty Images)
Two seamstresses from Louis Vuitton put together a coat-jacket to be worn by nurses helping to treat those with coronavirus. (Getty Images)

On Friday, the brand added that it will also be making thousands of gowns to be donated to frontline medical staff within the Parisian hospital network.

“These gowns will be created by volunteers at the Maison’s headquarters for six Parisian hospitals in urgent need of protective gear,” a caption on the brand’s Instagram page revealed.

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Earlier in the week, the fashion label shared an image of a worker creating masks on a sewing machine alongside an announcement of the scheme.

“In order to provide protective gear to healthcare workers, Louis Vuitton has repurposed several of the maison’s ateliers across France to produce hundreds of thousands of non-surgical face masks,” the announcement read.

It went on to say that the measure was being carried out in partnership with the Mode Grande Ouest textile network, with the aim of donating much-needed protective gear to frontline healthcare workers.

“Thank you to the hundreds of artisans who have volunteered to create these masks, as well as everyone doing their part to fight this global pandemic,” the post finished.

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In order to fulfil the task the brand has reopened 12 of its 16 leather goods production sites in France and 115 out of 896 employees are now back at work.

Chairman and CEO Michael Burke told WWD that the masks and gowns are being made under strict new hygiene and social distancing rules.

And the making of the masks and gowns hasn’t come without some tweaking of the production process.

“The ateliers were designed with maximum interaction from the prototype all the way to the finished goods, and what we had to set up is something that was at the opposite end of the spectrum,” Burke said.

“We had to retrofit most of our sewing machines and our artisans had to learn how to sew fabric.”

He went on to add that detailed safety instructions are available for all employees and that there is a nurse on site who teaches staff how to wash hands and put on their masks.

Louis Vuitton joins a number of other fashion brands who are transforming their production facilities into ones which manufacture PPE or hand sanitiser.

The French house’s parent company, LVMH, recently converted a number of its factories to produce hand sanitiser, repurposing Dior and Givenchy soap bottles.

And Burberry, Emporio Armani and Dior are among other global fashion labels temporarily pivoting production to manufacture COVID-19 PPE, including mask and gowns.

Burberry revealed in a series of Instagram posts it is halting regular business at its Yorkshire factory, where the brand’s iconic trench coat, among other items, is made.

And last month designer Christian Siriano revealed his team were working from home creating face masks for medical workers who need them.

Siriano told the Cut that he hopes to help make 100 fabric face masks a day, with a goal of 500 to 1,000 in total.