How luxury brands are responding to COVID-19

07 Apr 2020|By Ellen Millard

The luxury industry often gets a hard time for being frivolous, but its efficient and philanthropic response to the coronavirus pandemic has provided vital aid on the front line 

Anya Hindmarch

When Hugh Montgomery, Professor of Intensive Care Medicine at University College London, approached Anya Hindmarch to create a holster for frontline NHS workers, the luxury accessories brand was more than happy to oblige. Made from a wipeable and washable fabric to satisfy infection control, with harness-like straps for comfort and a host of pockets for belongings, the NHS Holdster prevents dropping items and allows workers to have what they need to hand. The brand also created 3,000 PPE gowns for the Royal Marsden, and there are a further 6,000 in the pipeline.


Fewer than 72 hours after the French government put a call out to businesses to help in the effort against Covid-19, luxury conglomerate LVMH had reassigned its factories, usually charged with churning out perfumes for the likes of Christian Dior, Givenchy and Guerlain, to produce hand sanitiser. 12 metric tonnes of gel have been donated to 39 Parisian hospitals so far, with more expected in the coming weeks. The brand has also ordered 40m face and surgical masks from China to be distributed amongst French healthcare workers, having already donated £1.9m to The Red Cross Society in China when the coronavirus outbreak first occured in January.

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In addition to a hefty donation to the Spallanzani hospital in Italy to acquire a new 3D microscope, Italian jeweller Bulgari has announced it will be producing several hundreds of thousands of hand sanitiser in collaboration with its perfume partner ICR, to help combat COVID-19. The 75ml recyclable bottles will be distributed to medical facilities through the Protezione Civile (Italian Civil Protection Department).


Ferrari is hoping to transform its Maranello headquarters into an assembly factory for breathing respirators and ventilators, in order to accelerate Italy’s output from 150 to 500 life-saving machines per week. Exor, the parent company of Ferrari and Fiat Chrysler, is currently in talks with Italy’s biggest ventilator manufacture, Siare Engineering, to discuss how the motoring giant can assist during the coronavirus pandemic.


Italy is one of the worst affected countries in the coronavirus pandemic, and Prada has been quick to come to the aid of its home nation. The fashion house has donated six intensive care units to three of Milan’s biggest hospitals: San Raffaele, Sacco and children’s hospital Vittore Buzzi. On 18 March, the brand also began the production of 80,000 hospital gowns and 110,000 surgical masks following a call for help from the Tuscany region, made using a breathable, non-woven propylene fabric

Hugo Boss

Hugo Boss announced last week that it would begin producing face masks from the clothing production site at its global headquarters in Metzingen. Crafted from a cotton blend material that can be washed and reused at least 50 times, the masks will be donated to public facilities such as nursing homes, fire departments and police stations to protect against coronavirus. The brand has pledged to produce 180,000 masks in total.

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Burberry has announced a number of coronavirus-tackling initiatives via Instagram. The fashion house has pledged to use its global supply chain network to fast-track the delivery of 100,000 surgical masks to the NHS, and is also repurposing its trench coat factory in Yorkshire to produce non-surgical gowns and face masks for hospital patients. It is also funding a single-dose vaccine currently being developed by the University of Oxford, which plans to begin human trials this April. Finally, the brand has donated an undisclosed amount to charities tackling food poverty, such as FareShare and The Felix Project.


Mulberry is using its Somerset factories to produce re-usable gowns for the Bristol NHS Trust. The British manufacturer has committed to making more than 8,000 gowns to support the protection of the NHS frontline workers.

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Luxury French fashion group Kering has mobilised the workforces of Balenciaga’s Paris workshop and Saint Laurent’s ready-to-wear factory in Angers to manufacture protective masks. The fashion giant, which also owns Bottega Veneta and Gucci, has also donated millions of euros in order to assist the French health service during the coronavirus pandemic, while the CEOs and designers have also personally contributed.

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Automobili Lamborghini

The raging bull from Sant’Agata Bolognese has taken the fight to the virus by producing surgical masks and protective shields for a hospital in Bologna. A thousand masks are being made a day in the Upholstery Department, normally used to trimming Alcantara leather for models such as the Urus and Aventador.

Giorgio Armani

At Giorgio Armani, all of its Italian factories have switched to manufacturing single-use hospital medical overalls, which will be donated to healthcare professionals across the country in the fight against COVID-19. The designer has also donated €2m to Italian hospitals, including four in Milan as well as hospitals in Bergamo, Piacenza and Versilia in the Tuscany region. “I would like to dedicate a special thought to those involved in the production of disposable medical overalls,” Giorgio Armani said. “With their skills and dedication, they will make a concrete contribution to confronting the greatest emergency of these years”.

Turnbull & Asser

Having developed innovative garments for British troops on the frontline during World War I, and kitted out Sir Winston Churchill during World War II, Turnbull & Asser is now in the process of producing thousands of much-needed garments for the NHS. The Royal Warrant holding shirtmakers have adapted their Gloucester workrooms and hired new machinery to cater for the production of medical-grade scrubs. The brand has procured NHS-approved materials from its network of British mills and suppliers.

Turnbull & Asser has begun work on an initial batch of 4,000 scrubs, and is working on several other initiatives in support of the NHS, key workers and those who are most vulnerable during this difficult time. “We believe compassion is key to overcoming this historic hurdle, and we hope all employees of the National Health Service are able to feel truly appreciated for all their hard work,” says Jonathan Baker, Turnbull & Asser Managing Director. “In turning our hand to the production of scrubs, we hope to do our bit in expressing that gratitude.”

Ralph Lauren

The Ralph Lauren Corporate Foundation has donated $10m to support the fight against coronavirus. The money will provide financial grants for the Emergency Assistance Foundation for Ralph Lauren employees; the World Health Organisation Covid-19 Solidarity Response Fund; supporting cancer patients through the brand’s Pink Pony Fund; supporting A Common Thread, a fundraising initiative for American fashion designers; and will also go towards producing 25,000 gowns and 25,000 face masks. The American designer has also made a substantial contribution to the CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund to help save struggling designer businesses during this time.

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Those hoping to spend this period of self-isolation online shopping will have been stumped when NET-A-PORTER and Mr Porter temporarily closed their factories – but all for good reason. The e-tailers’ delivery vans are supporting local Age UK charities in London by delivering medical and food packages to vulnerable people in the community during the coronavirus pandemic.

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