Saint Laurent and Balenciaga workshops to begin making medical masks

François-Henri Pinault

Employees at Saint Laurent and Balenciaga's workshops will soon begin making medical masks.

In light of the escalating coronavirus crisis around the world, bosses at Kering, the parent company of the luxury fashion houses, announced on Sunday that they are preparing to transform textile plants so they can start manufacturing surgical masks for hospitals in order to help support local health authorities.

"The French workshops of Kering's Houses Balenciaga and Yves Saint Laurent are preparing to manufacture masks while complying with the strictest health protection measures for their staff members, with production getting underway as soon as the manufacturing process and materials have been approved by the relevant authorities," a spokesperson said in a statement.

Leaders at Kering, the conglomerate helmed by Francois-Henri Pinault, have already provided the French health service with three million masks, following on from contributions made to China and Italy in recent weeks.

They are also making a financial donation to the Institut Pasteur in Paris to aid scientists in researching the Covid-19 pandemic.

Meanwhile, bosses at Kering's main competitor Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton (LVMH) have also pledged to supply millions of surgical masks to workers in France.

"By virtue of its global distribution network, LVMH has managed to secure an order with a Chinese industrial supplier for a delivery of 10 million masks in France in the coming days (seven million surgical masks and three million FFP2 masks). The order will be repeated for at least four weeks in similar quantities (i.e. approximately 40 million masks)," a spokesperson commented.

Last week, LVMH chief executive Bernard Arnault instructed the staff at LVMH Perfumes & Cosmetics, including those who make products for Christian Dior, Guerlain, and Givenchy, to prepare sites to begin making "substantial quantities" of hydroalcoholic gel.

The gel will be delivered free of charge to French health authorities and those working at Assistance Publique-Hopitaux de Paris, a network of teaching hospitals that treats more than eight million patients per year.

At present, there have been over 351,000 reported coronavirus cases around the world, with 15,000 deaths. China, Italy, Spain, France, Germany, Iran, and the U.S. remain the worst affected nations.

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