Fashion industry shifts from evening gowns to medical gowns
by Shane Miller
Apr 29, 2020 | 2782 views | 0 0 comments | 156 156 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Mayor Bill de Blasio thanks workers and tours Malia Mills, a fashion garment factory that has been repurposed to produce reusable hospital gowns for frontline healthcare workers. (Photo: Michael Appleton/Mayor’s Office)
Mayor Bill de Blasio thanks workers and tours Malia Mills, a fashion garment factory that has been repurposed to produce reusable hospital gowns for frontline healthcare workers. (Photo: Michael Appleton/Mayor’s Office)
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As health care worker continue to experience shortage of personal protective equipment (PPE), Mayor Bill de Blasio last week announced a public-private partnership with the White House, the Economic Development Corporation (EDC), and Owens-Minor (OW) to provide the city with one million square yards of medical gown fabric.

This supply will allow local New York City manufacturers to produce up to 400,000 hospital gowns for frontline health care workers.

“We must use every tool we’ve got to ensure their safety,” said de Blasio. “That means relying on New Yorkers’ resilience, ingenuity, and manufacturing prowess to create a self-sufficient supply of the resources they need to get through this crisis.”

Through a partnership with United Parcel Service of America (UPS), the fabric will be delivered from Owens-Minor’s facility in North Carolina to local manufacturers across the City.

EDC has identified local fashion and garment manufacturers and sewing talent that can make the medical gowns.

One organization producing gowns is Course of Trade, a woman-owned workforce development organization that trains the next generation of fashion manufacturers for free in Sunset Park.

They have hired 400 New Yorkers and will produce 60,000 hospital gowns a week in six different factories in South Brooklyn.

“This is an important time for small businesses, large businesses, and the government to band together to help our neighbors on the frontlines,” said Libby Mattern, production director for Malia Mills and founder of Course of Trade.

“We mobilized several South Brooklyn based brands to work together, including That’s My Girl, MUDO Fashion, Malia Mills, Custom Sewing Services, and the Fashion Poet to shift manufacturing operations to focus on critically necessary protective equipment,” she added.

Several other major fashion and garment companies are producing medical gowns, including former participants in the city’s Fashion Manufacturing Initiative (FMI), a program that funds garment factory modernization.

These factories will take advantage of this new supply of materials to produce 30,000 gowns this week and 400,000 gowns by late May.

Manufacturers in the Brooklyn Navy Yard, Brooklyn Army Terminal, and in other areas throughout the city are also producing face shields.

Currently there are nine local manufacturers producing roughly 300,000 face shields per week. By the end of the month, they will produce 465,000 a week.

In March, the city via the EDC launched an in-take form to coordinate with local businesses to manufacture needed medical supplies, receiving over 2,700 responses.

In addition to the factories working with the fabric from Owens-Minor, the city is working with eight factories in total to produce over 220,000 disposable and reusable surgical gowns per week.

The Administration is also launching a new effort to produce testing kit supplies in New York City. EDC is building a new supply chain to launch in the beginning of May that will produce up to 50,000 tests per week.

The city will bring together academic and commercial labs to produce the viral transport medium with local manufacturers that will produce testing swabs and procure the tubes.

“New York City is facing a crisis unlike anything it has seen before and getting through it will require bold action and strong collaboration across industry sectors and all levels of government,” said EDC president James Patchett. “This partnership is an example of what needs to be done to effectively respond to COVID-19.”

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