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COVID-19: Denim Industry Ramps Up Relief Efforts

As COVID-19 forces the denim industry to press pause, companies large and small are responding with actions and messages of goodwill.

Diesel parent company OTB has established the Brave OTB Solidarity Fund to support its employees most affected by the pandemic. All Italian OTB executives will donate a minimum of five of their contractual paid leave days. The economic value of the days donated will be distributed among lower income employees of the group who are inactive and in need because of outbreak.

The OTB Foundation has also covered the installation of air and surface sanitizers at three Italian hospitals. The technology eliminates bacteria and viruses, including COVID-19, helping hospital workers avoid the possibility of contagion.

“Being ‘brave’ also means being united and supportive,” the company stated.

With the tagline “Denim can wait. Stay at home,” G-Star Raw is scaling back promotions to urge its followers on Instagram to help flatten the curve. The Dutch company also donated 13,000 face masks to a local hospital, which it imported through its supply chain.

Raleigh Denim Workshop shared how its business is hurting and helping. On Instagram, founders Sarah Yarborough and Victor Lytvinenko said the company has lost all of its wholesale orders for the year.

“This is almost enough to put us under, but we’re determined to find a way forward,” they wrote. The brand marked down everything by 20 percent on its website, which the pair described as their “lifeline right now.” The move, they added, will help “keep some machines moving and some jeansmiths employed.”

Simultaneously, Raleigh Denim has been making mask prototypes for hospital and grocery store workers. The brand acquired 230 yards of a medical-grade Burlington Barrier Maxima AT breathable material used in protective medical uniforms for hospitals.

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“It’s the best material for masks that we can find from our resource network in America, and is washable up to 75 washes. We’ve designed it with a pocket so you can add an additional daily filter if you have one,” the brand wrote on Instagram.

Raleigh Denim sold out 200 of the $20 masks on its website and is working to make more. For every mask sold, the brand will donate two masks to people in need.

Shockoe Atelier has also shifted its production to N95 face masks while it temporarily shuts down its factory and showroom to the public in Richmond, Va.

Across the country, sustainable fashion brand Reformation as stepped up to monitor the production of five million non-medical masks for workers providing essential services through the crisis. The effort will ensure the city’s short supply of medical-grade N95 masks can be reserved for health-care workers treating patients in hospitals.

Dutch Denim Repair created a limited collection of masks from selvedge denim, too. With every order, repair or alteration, the company will send a mask for free. Additionally, the company will donate 5 euros to the Dutch Red Cross for every order.

Denham the Jeanmaker teamed with artist Laser 314 to send a live letter to the city of Amsterdam during this uncertain time. The duo has released posters that say “Amsterdam Forever” across the city. Additionally, Laser 314 is selling print artwork to support the Red Cross and Denham will also be donating 15,000 medical masks to local hospitals.

U.K. brand E.L.V. Denim has pledged to donate 15 percent of all sales made online over the coming weeks to Made in Hackney, a London food kitchen, to help get the free food delivery service to those most vulnerable to the virus in the community.

Similarly, Paige is donating 20 percent of all profits to St Vincent Meals on Wheels, a non-profit organization that prepares and delivers healthy meals to homebound seniors and others in need in Los Angeles. The Paige team is also taking to social media to share wellness and work-from-home tips.

Liberty Fairs has mental health top of mind. The trade show is offering the industry 30-day access to Inscape, a mindfulness app that can help relieve stress, anxiety and improve sleep.

Closed aims to keep the mood light, too, by rolling out content to make “days at home more creative, active and inspiring.” Using the hashtag #WeAreClosedTogether, the brand is sharing playlists, recipes and more to its followers.

Rivet continues to monitor how the denim industry is responding to the pandemic. Read more here.