It was bound to happen: vax merch. And not just any vax merch—Valentino vax merch.
The Italian luxury house is cranking out a black hoodie emblazoned with the words “Vaccinated” and Valentino’s iconic “V” logo in red lettering. Part declaration of inoculation, part status symbol, the $690 pullover is dedicated to a good cause. To wit, 100 percent of the proceeds will be donated to UNICEF to support its work with the World Health Organization’s vaccine-sharing Covax initiative.
Pierpaolo Piccioli, Valentino’s creative director, didn’t come up with the design. Rather, it was the brainchild of a Los Angeles label called Cloney that likes to riff off cultural touchstones. (Another example of the company’s work is a mashup of the Hermès and Home Depot logos.) When Piccioli discovered the sweatshirt, he snapped up the rest of Cloney’s stock, of which there were five. He doled them out to friends and family, including Lady Gaga, and then, as a lark, posted it on his Instagram page. The response was vociferous.
So Piccioli got back in touch with Cloney and suggested a Valentino x Cloney collaboration using the latter’s design and the former’s supply chain. The hoodies would include both their names, but neither would profit financially. They shook hands over the deal.
Piccioli told the New York Times that he anticipates making roughly $938,000 from the sale of the sweatshirts, which will be available on the Valentino website Thursday. Besides generating money for charity, they also telegraph a noble sentiment, he told the outlet.
“I can talk about ruffles and bows, but sometimes you have to use your voice to say what you really believe, and I believe it is our social responsibility to get vaccinated,” Piccioli said. “It’s not a symbol of freedom to not be vaccinated. It’s a symbol of lack of respect for others.”
Vaccine equity, which Covax seeks to ensure, has become a fraught issue. Stalled production in India, the world’s biggest producer of Covid-19 vaccines, has left swaths of the globe short of supplies and hampered inoculation efforts. Rich nations have been accused of hoarding vaccines, leaving poorer countries scrounging around for available doses.
Reuters reported this week, however, that India will be restarting vaccine production in the October quarter, with Covax and neighboring nations a priority. The country’s vaccine output is poised to quadruple to more than 300 million doses next month, according to health minister Mansukh Mandaviya, and only excess supplies will be exported.
President Joe Biden, speaking at a virtual Covid-19 summit he convened Wednesday in conjunction with the United Nations General Assembly meeting in New York, said the United States will be donating 500 million more jabs of the Pfizer vaccine to developing nations from next year. The new doses bring the White House’s Covax commitment to 1.1 billion doses, though only 300 million are expected to ship this year. According to experts, 11 billion shots are needed to vaccinate at least 70 percent of the global population.
Vietnam, which is experiencing a torrential surge of infections, has been scrambling to obtain more doses, although the recent approval of an eighth vaccine, Cuba’s Abdala, may bring a modicum of relief. On Monday Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh urged Covax to “quickly give as many Covid-19 vaccines as possible” to Vietnam amid widespread social and economic distress.
“Vietnam is having difficulty ensuring enough vaccines for all,” he said at an online meeting with Aurélia Nguyen, managing director of Covax Vietnam. The country of 96 million has administered 28 million single doses and 6.6 million double doses so far, authorities say.
Valentino isn’t the only fashion business financing vaccines. Early this month, German retailer KiK donated an undisclosed sum to the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association to pay for jabs for thousands of garment workers. Less than 10 percent of Bangladesh’s population of 163 million is fully vaccinated, according to Our World in Data. Garment workers make up a fraction of that.
“As a result of our many years of close cooperation, we became very aware of the impact of the corona pandemic on the country and the garment industry in particular,” CEO Patrick Zahn said at the time. “People in this industry work indoors, where they are at increased risk of infection. For me, there is no doubt that vaccination is the best protection against the coronavirus. With our donation, we want to make a contribution to ensure that people in the garment industry in Bangladesh are protected in the best possible way.”