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Kering and LVMH Commit to Supplying—and Producing—Millions of Surgical Masks Amid Shortage

The face masks are desperately needed to help protect front-line health workers from the virus and stop contagion.

A day in the life of a home care nurse amid the coronavirus pandemic, Paris, France - 20 Mar 2020 Christophe Petit/Shutterstock

As the Covid-19 pandemic rages on across the globe, one thing has become increasingly clear: We need more medical supplies to fight the fast-spreading virus. Fortunately, some of the luxury’s biggest players are rolling up their couture sleeves to help combat the shortage of ventilators, face masks and hand sanitizer.

Over the weekend, French conglomerates Kering and LVMH—who have already collectively donated more than $3 million to fight Covid-19—announced their respective plans to get more surgical face masks into their suffering homeland. At time of writing, France has 13,815 active cases of Covid-19 and 674 deaths. The face masks are desperately needed to help protect front-line health workers from the virus and stop contagion.

In a statement shared Sunday evening, Kering said it will provide the French health service with 3 million surgical masks, which the group will purchase and import from China. In addition, two of Kering’s houses, Balenciaga and Yves Saint Laurent, will start manufacturing masks in their workshops “as soon as the manufacturing process and materials have been approved by the relevant authorities.”

Kering’s leading label Gucci has also offered to donate more than 1 million surgical masks and 55,000 medical overalls to Italy in the coming weeks.

LVMH hand sanitizer gel

Courtesy of Shutterstock

Similarly, LVMH announced it will supply French authorities with at least 40 million masks. The luxury conglomerate was able to tap into its global distribution network to secure an order with a Chinese industrial supplier for delivery of 10 million masks to France in next few days. To top it off, LVMH has agreed to pay for the initial order itself.

“Bernard Arnault arranged for LVMH to finance the whole of the first week of deliveries, amounting to 5 million euros [approximately $5.39 million],” LVMH said in a statement.

Earlier this month, LVMH also started manufacturing hand sanitizer in its French makeup and fragrance facilities to help with dwindling disinfectant supplies.

Meanwhile in Italy, Prada has announced that it will produce 80,000 medical overalls and 110,000 face masks for healthcare personnel working in the Tuscany region. The move comes after the revered Italian label donated six intensive care units to Milan hospitals.

Elsewhere in the luxury sector, Rolls-Royce has promised to produce health equipment, including ventilators, after suspending operations at its UK manufacturing plant. Apple has donated 2 million N95 masks to health professionals in the US and Europe, while Moncler has donated nearly $11 million to build a temporary hospital in Italy.

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