There’s no denying that this is an unprecedented time for the global community, let alone the fashion industry. Retailers have been forced to close their doors and face considerable losses as customers and workers alike are encouraged to stay at home.
Yet, despite this, much like the beauty industry, fashion brands, both big and small, are working to make a difference.
The fashion industry is no stranger to rallying around a cause, from contributing to the rebuild of the Notre Dame Cathedral and the restoration of Rome’s Trevi Fountain to supporting relief efforts during the Australian bushfires. And now it is proving itself once more.
From producing hand sanitisers and face masks in repurposed factories to donating sale proceeds to charities that are supporting the most vulnerable, the fashion industry and the many people working in it have behaved in commendable ways.
The efforts are especially admirable during this period of great uncertainty with many fashion companies struggling to stay afloat due to the dramatic drop in sales. Yet, in spite of this, the industry’s relief network is seemingly growing day by day.
With millions of us under a Draconian lockdown and yearning for kindness and positivity, here’s our roundup of just a few of the generous ways the fashion world is showing its support and making an impact.
You too can help support those in need, through buying items from brands that are donating to charity, or by nominating your NHS hero to receive a free pair of shoes. Whatever it is, we hope these small acts of kindness brighten your day.
You can trust our independent roundups. We may earn commission from some of the retailers, but we never allow this to influence our selection. This revenue helps us to fund journalism across The Independent.
Known for her exuberant brushstrokes from previous partnerships with the likes of Victoria Beckham and Liberty London, illustrator and designer, Tatiana Alida, has now teamed up with SUITCASE MAGAZINE to design three unisex T-shirts to raise money for the British Red Cross UK Crisis Appeal. The charity is aiding the UK's response to Covid-19 and reinforcing the NHS where it needs it most.
Do your bit and purchase a T-shirt to show your support. Choose from one of the three slogans – "home and away", "honey I'm home" or "I stayed in 2020" – and spread the joy by posting on Instagram with the hashtag #IStayedIn2020.
Loved by many, including the likes of Holly Willoughby, this British footwear brand is paying tribute to the incredible people who work in the health service. Owner and creative director Tim Little has asked shoppers to nominate their NHS hero via Instagram using the hashtag #grensonheroes. One person will be chosen daily to receive a free pair of shoes until the worst of the emergency is over.
Following the closure of all of its high street stores, Kurt Geiger is dedicating itself to small acts of kindness. Encouraging its staff to spend time doing charitable work, the brand is asking store managers who are now volunteering at their local NHS hospital to distribute £100 Kurt Geiger vouchers to NHS staff in critical care departments, offering 55 vouchers per hospital. To extend its support even further, the brand is offering all NHS workers a 50 per cent discount for a whole year when shopping in store.
In addition to this, Neil Clifford, CEO of the footwear chain, has taken the decision to suspend his salary until stores reopen. Speaking about the initiative, Clifford said: “We are focusing on survival and showing as much kindness as we can to our staff, to our customers and to the NHS.” All staff, apart from the brand’s CEO, will continue to be paid their salary.
British brand Burberry will use its supply network to deliver 100,000 surgical masks to NHS workers. It is also repurposing its factory in Yorkshire where it produces trench coats to manufacture non-surgical gowns and masks for patients in British hospitals.
The heritage brand is also funding research into a single-dose vaccine that is being developed at the University of Oxford, as well as donating to key charities that are tackling food poverty across the UK, including FareShare and The Felix Project. Here at The Independent, we too have teamed up with The Felix Project in our campaign to Help the Hungry.
In a bid to celebrate those dedicated to fighting the coronavirus, wedding dress designer brand Pronovias launched its “heroes collection”, offering all hospital-employed brides-to-be a free dress until August 31, 2020.
Alessandra Rinaudo, the brand’s artistic director, describes these workers as “soldiers, unrelenting in their battle to heal the sick. It is an honour to show my support and raise awareness for all of these women doing their best to overcome this pandemic. Love will conquer all.”
Despite facing a 20 per cent drop in sales due to coronavirus, the French apparel brand is still supporting those affected by coronavirus. In a bid to free up supplies for doctors, nurses and patients, Sandro will be using excess fabric from previous collections to make face masks for non-medical workers in hospitals. The brand has also announced it is releasing a new T-shirt to raise money for the Red Cross, it will be donating 100 per cent of the profits to the charity. Keep your eyes peeled across the brand’s Instagram page, as we predict this will be a sellout.
Desmond & Dempsey
Before coronavirus, this cult pyjama brand had planned to host a sample sale. In light of being unable to do so, Desmond & Dempsey has launched its Gift4Good initiative, a campaign which asks shoppers to nominate someone who deserves a new pair of pyjamas, socks or eye mask, to receive a free gift. If you know someone who’s in need of a little cheering up, we urge you to check out the initiative.
British womenswear brand Lisou will be making a donation to the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) foundation to provide support grants for nurses who may be unable to work themselves due to illness or sick family members.
Lisou has also pledged to donate 20 per cent of its sale profits to the RCN foundation Covid-19 support fund for three months. You can also donate to the fund via the RCN website.
London-based jewellery brand Alighieri is donating 20 per cent of the proceeds from every website order to Trussell Trust during the crisis. The charity provides support to food banks around the UK. The brand is also spreading joy on its Instagram page, having asked people to send in anything giving them light right now, be it a letter, poem or playlist.
British Fashion Council
The British Fashion Council (BFC), a not-for-profit organisation promoting leading British fashion designers, has announced the launch of its new fund to help emerging creative businesses and individuals during the pandemic.
The £1m BFC Foundation Covid Crisis Fund will support design businesses and students, in a bid to “underpin the future generation of creative talent”. Applications will open in the next seven days and will close on 10 April.
Caroline Rush, CEO of BFC said: “Now more than ever, we are committed to support the businesses and people that make up our industry. With the BFC Fund and the donations raised, our hope is to support those British businesses that need additional subsidies, beyond government stimulus available, to address their most urgent challenges.”
This announcement follows the BFC’s calls for those with “production capacity” to help with NHS shortages. Working with the government, the organisation has been asked to mobilise fashion manufacturers to produce essential products, including masks. This is something that London-based designer Phoebe English, among others, has already started doing.
Umar Kamani, CEO and founder of online fashion brand PrettyLittleThing, has pledged to donate his March salary to help support small businesses who are struggling during the pandemic. Using the hashtag #PrettyLittleWishes, the CEO has also been using his Twitter account to give out sizeable contributions to the PrettyLittleThing community, including donations to NHS workers who are struggling financially.
Anna Wintour has launched a fund for those in the fashion industry who have been affected by coronavirus. Every year, Vogue partners with the Council of Fashion Designer of America (CFDA) to create the CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund, which typically provides financial aid to emerging talent in the industry.
However, in light of coronavirus, Wintour announced that this year’s fund, named “a common thread”, will be used to help young designers, retail workers and seamstresses pay their bills during the ongoing pandemic. Those wishing to benefit from the fund can apply online from 8 April.
Writing about the initiative for Vogue, Wintour added that in a bid to raise awareness of this effort, an accompanying video series has been launched, which will “tell stories about how American designers and their workers and colleagues are coping, how businesses have been affected, [and] what we all plan to do to move forward.
“These stories will go behind the scenes to show everyone who contributes to this creative, vibrant, and incredibly important industry.”
Independent jewellery brand Monica Vinader is sparking joy by donating 50 of its bestselling friendship bracelets to a campaign that is showing appreciation for health workers. The "at your service" initative was founded by Original Travel, a holiday company, which is seeking gift donations that can be won by members of the NHS through a free raffle. Other brands supporting the cause include Oskia, William & Son and Bloom & Wild.
Three Graces London
This fashion brand is helping vulnerable people during the coronavirus outbreak by donating 100 per cent of its sales from 18 March to 8 April to Crisis, a charity that supports the homeless.
Catherine Johnson, founder of Three Graces London, said in a post on Instagram: “I know that, like me, lots of people are wondering what they can do to help their community in this time of urgent need. I hope that this provides a unique and meaningful way for shoppers to give back and have a positive impact on society’s most vulnerable”.
In a separate post, Johnson added: “Whilst we retreat to the safety of and comfort of our homes, I want to spare a thought for those who don't have that luxury. By supporting the incredible work of homeless charity, Crisis, we hope to be able to play a small part in helping those who are at their most vulnerable and alone”.
This initiative from London-based sustainable denim brand E.L.V Denim proves that it’s not just big brands that are giving back. It will be donating 15 per cent of the proceeds from every online sale to Made in Hackney, a local food kitchen. The charity is helping to deliver free food to the most vulnerable people in the community. If you want to give to Made in Hackney, you can donate on the crowd funder page.
As part of its "response programme", this luxury parka brand announced it was repurposing its factories in Toronto and Winnipeg to produce scrubs and gowns for hospitals across Canada, free of charge.
Gucci has chosen to support two crowdfunding campaigns supporting the coronavirus relief effort by by donating €1m to each of them. One campaign will help locally to support the Italian Civil Protection Department, while the other will help globally, supporting the World Health Organisation’s Covid-19 solidary response fund.
Calling on the global community to make donations, Alessandro Michele, the brand’s creative director, and Marco Bizzari, Gucci’s president and CEO, said: “Gucci has created a world, open and free: a Gucci global community. We ask all of you to be the changemakers in this crisis, to stand together with us in the fight against the coronavirus. We are all in this together”.
The initiative follows Gucci’s parent company, Kering, pledging to produce one million masks and gowns for healthcare professionals. It will also be donating €3m to relief initiatives across China, Italy and France.