Despite the unprecedented implications of the global pandemic that shook the fashion industry at its core, the past two months have highlighted a strong community feel as brands made their contribution to the fight against the virus - and against boredom, for that matter, alleviating the anxiety we have all felt regarding the uncertainty ahead. The following YUGEN10 installment lists 10 ways in which the fashion industry has mobilised to make the world a better place in a time when it seems scarier than ever.
LVMH has led the march of luxury brands making considerable donations to charities of choice or medical bodies in their respective countries, being the first to donate £1.78 million to The Red Cross China. Kering followed up with a large donation to the Hubei Red Cross Foundation, as well as several major hospitals in Italy.
Substantial donations have been done by luxury brands based in Italy as the country became the strongest hit outside of China. Prada has donated intensive care units to Milanese hospitals, Moncler has likewise supported the construction of a hospital with a £8.77 million donation, and Giorgio Armani has donated £1 million to numerous Italian medical institutions.
In France, Hermès has donated approximately £19 million to public hospitals in Paris, while London-based brands have taken it upon themselves to support individuals in vulnerable situations, as ALIGHIERI has been donating 20% of their sales to the Trussell Trust, supporting food banks around the UK. Dilara Findigoklu will be donating a percentage of her SS20 profits to the Artists and Freelancers Hardship Fund.
2. MANUFACTURING MEDICAL EQUIPMENT
Besides monetary donations, brands have shown solidarity by repurposing their manufacturing facilities to provide hospital staff and various charitable institutions with medical equipment. The LVMH perfume and cosmetics units have started manufacturing hydro-alcoholic gels and medical masks, while Fendi is collaborating with its suppliers to provide masks to medical employees in Italy. Salvatore Ferragamo has gone further to provide thousands of TNT antibacterial masks and hand sanitiser units to health care facilities.
Louis Vuitton’s workshops in France and the US are now producing non-surgical masks to be donated to regions most affected by COVID-19. In England, Burberry’s Yorkshire factory is now manufacturing non-surgical masks and gowns following the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency guidelines.
Responding to the face mask shortage in UK pharmacies, Fashion and Textiles students at Central Saint Martins are creating non-surgical scrubs for the NHS, the patterns of which will be freely available to download on the CSM website. Christopher Kane is also giving away free face mask craft packs made up of past-season fabric to ensure the availability of supplies to medical staff (email firstname.lastname@example.org stating your full name and UK postal address to receive one).
3. FUNDING COVID-RELATED RESEARCH
Bottega Veneta’s Creative Director, Daniel Lee, was one of the first to announce the funding of two-year scholarships in support of coronavirus-related research in hard-hit Italy, stating: “With these scholarships, we are able to contribute to securing the future of our global health by supporting their admirable and courageous work.”
Burberry has also funded the University of Oxford’s research into the development of a single-dose vaccine which, according to a release, will start human trials imminently.
4. SPECIAL ITEMS & CAPSULE COLLECTIONS
Supreme has designed a T-shirt featuring original artwork by Takashi Murakami, which is sold exclusively on their website, 100% of the proceeds of which will go towards supporting homelessness relief - specifically the organisation HELP USA.
The UK streetwear brand Palace has similarly released a capsule of hoodies and T-shirts with a reimagined logo supporting the NHS, the entire profits of which are going to NHS Charities Together.
French brand Sandro’s specially designed shirt is being sold on its website with 100% of proceeds going to the Red Cross.
5. DIGITAL FASHION WEEK
The AW20 fashion week in Milan and Paris memorably came to an unexpected halt, the fashion industry has been hit by the realisation that the yearly fashion schedule may be completely overthrown. With the upcoming SS21 Menswear shows cancelled, as well as the Resort/Cruise and couture shows worldwide, brands have had their say regarding the future of fashion week as we know it.
Saint Laurent has declared it will be setting its own calendar for, at least, the rest of the year, in a bid to legitimate “the value of time and connecting with people globally by getting closer”.
Amid growing concerns about the sustainability of fashion week travel several times a year, the current circumstances have forced fashion councils to reconsider the nature of these events. London Fashion Week is the first of the June editions to embrace digitisation, which, according to Vogue, will consist of remote virtual showrooms and e-lookbooks. This step towards overturning a concept so embedded in fashion dynamics is bound to leave a long-lasting mark on the future of the industry, redefining the fashion landscape at its roots, favouring genderfluidity and genuine creativity while massively benefiting the environment.
6. DIGITAL RESIDENCIES
As part of the fight against the pandemic, brands have taken it upon themselves to spread positivity in the form of social and educational online events. Prada has launched a conversation series involving various cultural figures and fashion professionals entitled #PradaPossibleConversations. Each conversation entails a donation to UNESCO, one of the main organisations battling COVID-19.
JW Anderson’s JWQ&A is a series of Instagram video sessions in which followers are encouraged to ask questions to creatives associated with the brand.
Bottega Veneta has launched a virtual platform dedicated to the celebration of creativity during the lockdown, showcasing a range of collaborators from all kinds of backgrounds, including the music and culinary industries. The Bottega Residency (accessible on www.bottegaveneta.com) was kicked off by Daniel Lee himself, who stated: “In this highly distressing time, we feel a responsibility to create those values and ignite a sense of joy and hope in our community and beyond.”
7. ONLINE INITIATIVES
Other brands have gone further to involve their followers in creative challenges. Alexander McQueen set the tone with the ‘McQueen Creators’ initiative which asked its followers to make art based on a selection of images, with tasks ranging from sketching iconic McQueen pieces, to 3D design and embroidery. A number of brands worldwide have followed through, setting challenges like Koche’s best catwalk challenge, or Ganor Dominic’s #Iamanartpiece challenge, which prompted followers to choose a painting to recreate at home.
8. EVENT STREAMING
Valentino is one of the brands hosting a live-streamed performance series on its Instagram, entitled #ChezMaisonValentino and counting Alicia Keys and Yrsa Daley-Ward as performers in session. Likewise, Kenzo has involved their community in a programme called #stayhomewithKENZO - a weekly series of Instagram live streams ranging from musical performances and talks to creative workshops.
The main event streaming, however, was most certainly the digital version of the Met Gala. With the actual event being inevitably cancelled, the organisers have reinvented the Gala into a ‘Oscars of Fashion’ celebration. A Moment with the Met, as it was titled, involved an appearance from Anna Wintour, an exclusive Virgil Abloh DJ set, as well as a live performance by Florence and the Machine.
9. CURATING ISOLATION ENTERTAINMENT
Dior has created a virtual version of its Christian Dior: Designer of Dreams exhibition, previously on show at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs in Paris, taking the viewer through the 70-year heritage of the established luxury house via its Instagram and Youtube channels.
ALIGHIERI is one of the British brands that has launched a curated ‘time capsule of letters for a future generation’. Published on their platform, these ‘letters’ include a selection of poems, stories and playlists to remind us of beauty within dark times.
Selfridges has launched a virtual gallery showing photography works based on the theme of home, displaying pieces by Ashley Armitage, Pixy Liao and TOILETPAPER magazine - while also encouraging viewers to create their own and prompting lockdown creativity.
Creative director of Celine, Hedi Slimane, has curated a MUBI film list (which, by the way, offers a free 30-day trial) revealing his multidimensional inspirations. Selecting from MUBI’s catalogue of films the list features some of the most seminal directors of the 20th century, along the likes of Wim Wenders, Ingmar Bergman, and Jean-Luc Godard.
10. FACETIME PHOTOSHOOTS
A highly original take on the editorial shoot, FaceTime photography has become a trend in little less than a month, as photographers, stylists, creative directors and model agencies alike have combined their expertise to overcome the digital barrier. A revolutionary new way of visual content creation, the FaceTime shoot has been embraced by luxury brands like Jacquemus, who collaborated with Pierre-Ange Carlotti and Bella Hadid to produce its SS20 campaign as well as an editorial spread for Vogue Italia - the Vogue edition best known for its edgy explorations of the digital. The production of FaceTime editorial photographs that bring high fashion to the home environment has proved that physical limitations are made to be overcome, prompting a new and more literal take on the imminent digitalisation of fashion.
Make sure to check out YUGEN’s take on the FaceTime editorial here.