Christian Siriano, Michael Costello and More Designers Producing Face Masks amid Coronavirus Pandemic
Christian Siriano, Brandon Maxwell, Michael Costello, Los Angeles Apparel founder Dov Charney, Pyer Moss founder and designer Kerby Jean-Raymond and swimwear designer Karla Colletto are the latest fashion powerhouses to contribute to the fight against coronavirus (COVID-19).
Hundreds of social media users applauded Siriano for the generous offer — among them? New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who said that the state has a “critical need for PPE including gloves, gowns & masks,” in a tweet on Friday.
Later, he added, “Appreciate his help so much. Who’s next? Let’s do this together, NY!”
On Instagram, influencer Nicolette Mason thanked the star for “leading by example” and encouraged others to make the same decision.
“🙌🙌🙌 Yes!!! The entire NY fashion industry should shift to help people on the frontlines of this crisis,” she said in the comment section of Siriano’s post. “Thanks for leading by example. I hope this is one way small fashion brands can weather the storm AND help.”
Later in the day on Friday, Siriano shared a video on Twitter showing the process they are following to correctly fit the masks.
On Sunday, a second Project Runway alum shared that he has been “glued” to his sewing machine making non-surgical grade masks for 24 hours straight.
“We will not be selling any of these but rather giving them away to all first responders, hospitals, and healthcare providers,” Michael Costello — who has dressed stars including Beyoncé, Britney Spears and Gwen Stefani since appearing on the Bravo competition show’s eighth season — wrote on Instagram alongside a black-and-white video.
“I’m not surprised that you would do this. ❤️🙏🏽 this is exactly the person I know you to be. So amazing,” influencer Desi Perkins commented under the post.
Current Project Runway judge, designer Brandon Maxwell, is also refocusing his design team’s efforts to start producing medical-grade protective gear for healthcare workers.
On Friday, he announced his plan on his Instagram and Twitter accounts. “In response to this global crisis, we are now focusing on creative efforts on manufacturing PPE, starting with gowns. We have spent the last week researching the appropriate medical textiles to create these gowns and are proud to provide these much needed items to the doctors and nurses on the front lines of the crisis,” the statement read.
“As more information becomes available on how to manufacture medical grade masks and gloves, we will transition in to doing so. Any information you can share for donating locations or organizations would be greatly appreciated.”
He encouraged anyone with information to email email@example.com.
Early last week, Los Angeles Apparel (founded by Dov Charney, the former head of American Apparel, in 2016) posted a message on Instagram, stating that the brand’s “experienced workforce and management team of over 450 people are ready and able to produce masks or medical products for any government agency.”
“These are not N95 masks, but they are the equivalent of surgical masks,” Charney told the New York Times of his product, which are made from a sweatshirt-like fabric, according to the outlet.
In a second Instagram message, Los Angeles Apparel further explained its decision to produce hand-sewn masks.
“We are not saying that our mask is perfect. We are not qualified to say whether or not it is effective,” the brand said on Thursday. “But in this moment of crisis, it seems that it is only common sense that wearing any kind of mask or face protection will help prevent transmission of the virus and possibly prevent contraction of the virus when interacting with others. We have a workforce that is motivated to produce these masks.”
According to the New York Times, Charney has already delivered the masks to hospitals in Seattle, New Mexico, New York and Las Vegas.
Kirby Jean-Raymond, the creative behind New York-based label Pyer Moss, shared that he personally knows medical professionals who do not have enough N95 masks — and even said that one of is doctor friends and her colleagues have been washing their mask with bleach amid the worldwide shortage.
In response, the brand will collect “new mail packaged N95 masks and latex gloves” in its N.Y.C. office.
“We will convert the Pyer Moss office in NYC to a donation center for these items. We will use recommended hygiene and social distancing practices to receive and re-distribute these items directly to medical professional as needed,” Pyer Moss wrote on Instagram.
After briefly shutting its factory amid the coronavirus outbreak, swimwear brand Karla Colletto (founded by Colletto and Lisa Rovan) unveiled a plan to bring “as many of their 40 employees (including two dozen sewers) as possible back” to produce masks and gowns, the New York Times reports.
Colletto told the outlet, “Because we have our own facility, we can be flexible and switch gears quickly.” The Karla Colletto team will reportedly sell the masks and gowns to a hospital supply distributer and use the profit to pay employees.
The slew of announcements from prominent fashion designers comes just weeks after U.S. Surgeon General Jerome M. Adams urged the public to stop purchasing face masks, warning that the masks won’t protect from potential contamination and that the decrease in supply is putting healthcare providers at risk.
“Seriously people- STOP BUYING MASKS! They are NOT effective in preventing general public from catching #Coronavirus, but if healthcare providers can’t get them to care for sick patients, it puts them and our communities at risk!” he shared on Twitter.
He later added, “The best way to protect yourself and your community is with everyday preventive actions, like staying home when you are sick and washing hands with soap and water, to help slow the spread of respiratory illness. Get your #FluShot– fewer flu patients = more resources for #COVID19.”
The CDC echoed that advice in a press briefing a few days earlier, saying that they do not recommend face masks for the general public.
“While it is cold and flu season, we don’t routinely recommend the use of face masks in the general public to prevent respiratory illness, and we certainly are not recommending that at this time for this new virus,” said Dr. Nancy Messonier, director of the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases at the CDC.
When healthy people buy up face masks they take them away from medical professionals who do need them. There is currently a worldwide shortage of face masks, and Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said on Feb. 25, that the U.S. has just 30 million stockpiled, and need ten times that — 300 million — to protect heath care workers.
According to ABC News, the federal government has said up to a billion masks might be needed over the next six months.
As information about the coronavirus pandemic rapidly changes, PEOPLE is committed to providing the most recent data in our coverage. Some of the information in this story may have changed after publication. For the latest on COVID-19, readers are encouraged to use online resources from CDC, WHO, and local public health departments and visit our coronavirus hub.