(Forbes) : COVID-19 began to shut down retailers across the country, Prabal Gurung, like many of his industry peers, was eager to transform his luxury fashion house into a producer of face masks for frontline workers.
So the New York City-based designer hopped on calls with local hospitals, Governor Cuomo’s office and nonprofits hoping to pitch in. But he quickly learned that constructing a single “medical-grade” mask is more complicated than creating bespoke gowns for the Met Gala.
“What I realized was that making masks is just one small part of the process,” says Gurung. “If they were going to be used by hospital workers in the front lines, they had to be FDA- and CDC-approved.” A process that could take months. “Then my sources were telling me that my facilities are not equipped to make medical-grade masks at all.”
From global brands like Louis Vuitton, Christian Siriano and Brandon Maxwell, to small independent designers like Darius Brown and Gregory Apparel, many are pivoting their businesses or using their sewing chops to address the national shortage of masks.