While China, after 3 months of intensive fight against COVID-19, is beginning to see the mortality curve drop, Europe is in turn preparing to face the peak of the epidemic. From the original cluster in Italy, the uncontrolled spread in Spain, the beginning of the pandemic in France, the virus has no borders. So, when reality exceeds fiction, when human and material resources are lacking, when the virulence of the contamination is unexpected, the authorities have no alternative but to call for a general mobilization.
Faced with the scale of this health crisis, the French health system is failing, the fashion and luxury industry demonstrates its capacity to adapt and reorganize.
Significant financial support
Very present in the aid brought to Asia (see article here), the luxury giants (clothing and cosmetics) are once again investing to lend a helping hand to European countries. Each one chooses its own cause, they are all commendable. Some opt for long-term support, such as Dolce & Gabbana, which contributes financially to the research of the Milanese Humanitas University (work dedicated to research on the COVID-19 vaccine). Others respond to more immediate needs, such as Armani or Benetton’s donations to Italian hospitals.
In the hexagon, actions are adapted to the urgency of the needs: contractors replace the State’s shortcomings. In view of the shortage of medical devices (gels, masks), the major luxury groups are converting their French production sites into subcontracting sites dedicated to the pharmaceutical industry. The hour is serious; everyone is redefining their profession to save lives.
The LVMH group, owner of famous names in perfume, is making the most of its production capacity by becoming a manufacturer of hydro-alcoholic gels. The brands Dior in St Jean de Braye, Guerlain in Chartres or Givenchy in Beauvais, are trying to meet the vital needs of a medical profession totally deprived and on the verge of chaos.
Kering also operates its French production line. The fashion houses Yves Saint Laurent and Balenciaga, based in Angers and Paris respectively, make protective masks in units that have been completely transformed for the occasion.
Logistical support thanks to Made in France
During this dark period and in response to the magnitude of the task, the ability to manufacture under the Made in France label then becomes meaningful. Having technical, logistical and know-how resources on one’s own territory are all assets in trying to curb the spread of the virus.
However, the luxury goods industry, which is certainly receiving more media coverage, is not the only one to operate. Whether in the light or in the background, VSEs or SMEs, established or novice manufacturers, all are responding to the call in the name of national solidarity. Saint James (specialist in knitting in the Manche), Tissages de Charlieu (jacquard manufacturer in the Loire) or Ateliers Tuffery (denim expert in Lozère), make every day textile masks that can be washed at high temperatures, an alternative to FFP2-approved protection. Just as tightly welded as the elastics of the masks they make, each one takes responsibility in a war where the enemy is invisible, yet omnipresent.
There will be a before and after Covid19, with disastrous human and economic consequences. But the time has not yet come to take stock, everyone is currently taking action. It is impossible, however, not to give way to immediate reflection and acknowledge the limitations of globalisation. It is also impossible not to be overwhelmed by a great sense of pride and to want to salute the responsiveness of all the actors of Made In France. Many thanks to all of you.