As the coronavirus pandemic continues to unfold, Houston’s fashion market is doing its best to adapt.
Franklin Richardson works in the Medical Center and has seen first-hand the shortage of personal protective equipment (PPE). Richardson owns a luxury menswear label, Frank Rich Co. He recently donated fabric to his Texas-based manufacturer, which is currently producing masks for healthcare professionals.
The Houston Methodist Hospital, the first academic medical center in the nation to be approved by the FDA to transfuse donated plasma from a recovered COVID-19 patient into a critically ill patient, recently ordered 9,000 Prema anti-bacterial face masks from Accel Lifestyle. The activewear line’s exclusive anti-stink fabric is helping add an extra layer of reusable protection, Katherine K. Perez, infectious diseases pharmacist for Houston Methodist Hospital System and member of the RDV COVID-19 Team said in a release.
Dawn Ohlsson Bell, the founder of the Houston Vintage Market and Festival, collected all the polypropylene totes lying around her house and upcycled them into face masks, in partnership with Magpies & Peacocks, the exclusive nonprofit design house.
Danny Nguyen Couture has created face masks and has shipped 2,000 of the water-resistant, breathable masks across the nation. Each mask features five layers of filtered protection, an air-sealed seam, and adjustable straps.
This month’s Where to Shop column looks a little different. We’re highlighting local designers and entrepreneurs who have shifted their overall strategies beyond producing seasonal collections and custom designs.
For April, look to these brands who are producing masks for healthcare professionals, both near and far. These companies are donating proceeds to Kids Meals, Inc., the Houston Food Bank, and Southern Smoke Foundation, and are sending care packages to nurses and doctors.
The Project Runway Season 18 alum is fashioning masks made of two layers of knitting. Alan Gonzalez tells CultureMap that by making them thicker, they’ll be more comfortable and offer a tighter fit. The first batch consisted of 140 masks while he aims for 150 more in his second batch. With the goal of creating new designs twice a week, he shares that he’s trying to keep up with the demand and support Houston simultaneously.
Citing Elie Tahari and Catherine Malandrino as mentors, Christy Lynn, who now calls Houston home, is celebrating the one-year anniversary of her namesake label. Before moving to Houston, Christy Lynn gained experience as a design assistant for the American fashion designer Nanette Lepore. While pursuing her career, she waited tables during nights and weekends. Now, she’s donating 30 percent of the proceeds from her spring 2020 collection to Southern Smoke’s emergency relief fund. “When a crisis this bad hurts our economy, it’s important to remember that we’re all connected, regardless of what city we live in because we’re all in this together,” she says.
Throughout April, use code SHOPSMALL20 for 20 percent off the spring collection.
What began as 1,250 non-woven polypropylene masks designed to fit over an existing N95 mask quickly turned into 3,600 for healthcare workers and Houstonians. On top of that initial batch, the Harris County Fire Marshal, alone, requested 4,000 masks for paramedics and emergency care workers. Peck tells us that after careful research, he chose the non-woven polypropylene to prolong the use of the medical-grade masks. A filter can be added inside the mask and they’re washable. He says that it’s hard to imagine his fashion design skills, skills that can sometimes be seen as frivolous or unnecessary, would come in handy in a medical emergency.
Last week, Peck and his team received more than 7,000 requests for masks, and he began selling masks in limited-edition prints online in a buy one, give one deal. For every mask sold from the limited-edition collection, Peck will donate one to those responders on the front line.
E. Taylor Designs
This jewelry designer — and nurse who knows what it’s like to work long hours — is not only donating 20 percent of jewelry sales (no code needed at checkout) to organizations helping support those in need during this crisis, but also creating care packages, priced at $35, that will directly go to healthcare professionals. She tells us that these care packages are a “small thing to boost morale and hopefully make their days a little lighter.” Included in each care package are useful items such as pens and gum as well as thoughtful items that can be soothing after a long day like eye masks, lotion, or a massage tool. A pair of earrings from her line will also be included.
With schools closed for the foreseeable future, many students who rely on meals will no longer have access to them. Owner and jewelry designer Jennifer Welker says that it is a duty and honor to support the local community. “We have felt called to stand up and do something for our beloved hometown,” she notes, pointing out that throughout this crisis, the Houston Food Bank continues to provide healthy food options to children. “Hunger is heart-breaking. Hunger is suffering. The need to eat is synonymous with being human,” Welker says.
Through May 1, shop Golden Thread and enjoy 20 percent off site-wide with code COMMUNITY. Thirty percent of proceeds will benefit the Houston Food Bank. Also through May 1, if you shop the Community Collection, which consists of five luxe necklaces, all proceeds will be donated to the Houston Food Bank.
As COVID-19 spread, Kendra Scott set a mission to donate proceeds from the Everlyne Bracelet to Feeding America and has donated more than one million meals, and counting. Last weekend, thanks to partnerships with local influencers, the jewelry line donated more than $4,500 to Kids Meals Houston. “We’ve worked with our partners to select organizations that support women and children in living their brightest, healthiest lives,” Sheena Wilde, senior director of Philanthropy, says.
With the shortage of PPE, Kendra Scott is repurposing her yellow branded bandanas to local female volunteer groups to sew masks which will then be dispersed to various hospitals across the nation.
Additionally, Scott is continuing her Kendra Gives Back program through virtual events. The hosts will receive custom codes to share with their community, and for 48 hours, 20 percent of all proceeds will directly support the charity of their choice.
The Heights-area custom clothing label stopped their ‘normal’ production at the end of March to begin creating 10,000 masks daily. They are working with TXRX Labs, a nonprofit maker space; Connect Community, a nonprofit organization building healthy communities in Sharpstown/Gulfton; and Projects-Matter, a program development company aimed at connecting and building thriving communities. Owner Merin Guthrie notes that they’ve also partnered with Heights residents to help with the numerous requests from essential medical personnel and non-hospital service personnel such as restaurants.
Guthrie says her small staff have fielded requests from medical staff in 15 states and the Houston Fire Department. With fabric donated by Under Armour, Jessica McMahon, a designer and design educator, is also partnering with KIT to create a reusable gown for medical professionals. Guthrie notes that she went to a small all-girls high school where they were taught that if you can help, you do. “Our unofficial school motto was ‘function in disaster, finish in style,’ and this may be the pinnacle of living out that saying.”
Known for consistently “challenging traditions and redefining classic,” Lorrell Gold is designing masks made from neoprene and cotton with an added filter. Available for purchase online, he is also donating to his neighborhood Kroger and H-E-B employees.