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The Local Fashion Industry Comes Together To Make PPE Suits For The Country

The Philippine government reaches out to fashion designers to help provide basics like face masks and protective suits. But they need our help, too.

In big or small ways, the local industry’s fashion designers team up to create that one garment that could potentially save us all: Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) suits.

Lead Photo by Raff Colmenar

The growing cases of COVID-19 in the Philippines go up by the day. As of press time, according to ABS-CBN news, the total number of cases is 501 with 19 cases recovered and a death toll of 33.  How ready are we for such unforeseen pandemic hitting our nation hard? Apparently, not as much as we’d like.

In a statement from the Vice President Leni Robredo herself via Facebook, it’s been barely a month since the official lockdown and we are already in dire need of supplies for the long haul ahead. The statement was a call for creative solutions on how our country can fend for itself as she puts it, “We are competing for supplies with the rest of the world.” She then turns to fashion designers and architects to come up with alternative designs for PPEs that can be produced and sourced locally.

Photo from the Office of the Vice President

Here’s when the fashion heroes come in

Fashion designer and milliner Mich Dulce was quick to turn to social media, even days before the announcement, saying that the Office of the Vice President will be lending them samples of the protective gear to make the pattern and then begin production.

Since then, she has founded a Facebook group called Manila Protective Gear Sewing Club, a group dedicated to the logistics and the specifics of the project to provide our frontliners the much-need uniforms like the PPE suits, face masks, and even shoe covers. In the post, she calls for additional hands to help make the projects possible. To the designers still in operation or with the capacity to work from home, she asks for any extended help they could offer the project. As soon as she creates the design pack, she can provide fabrics, too, to those willing to help.

More fashion designers stepped up to the job also seeking for any assistance in order to catapult the process into full production. Metrowear designer Patty Ang turned to Instagram for help with materials her studio can use to make the suits.

Her hardworking in-house team of seamstresses are all ready to help, not in making her usual sleek designs she is known for, but this time, something even bigger. “Since I do have the production and resources,” Patty shares, “why not help?” She goes on saying the work could also help her team and as advised by the VP, herself, this project really also aids the skilled workers with work—all within the respective jurisdiction’s approval, of course.

Mark Bumgarner, also started his own call for supplies. Protective suits can’t just be made from anything. These makeshift uniform need the same level of protection as the standard ones. The designers need specifics like taffeta, nylon-based fabrics that are water repellant like those of umbrellas, non-woven materials of 50gsm and up, zippers and garters to create suits for our healthcare workers.

Earlier initiatives from the industry

Even before the VP’s call, some industry people were quick to respond to the growing needs of the frontliners.

Fashion designer Renan Pacson has been creating free face masks five days ago to immediate friends, which has now ventured to those who may need them.

Designer Santi Obcena has also been making protective masks which are equal parts useful and chic! He suggests using eco bag material and excess cotton and denim for a waterproof outer and breathable inner. With his small production, he aims to fully provide materials to frontliners and volunteers.

Michael Leyva has also sewn hundreds of washable face masks and his team delivering them personally to the frontliners in Rizal, with a special meal from a fast food chain.

This is where the rest of us steps in

They may have the hands and the team to create the goods needed but the specific materials needed like nylon-based materials, PPE suit fabric, taffeta, zippers, and garters are still in urgent call.

Please click their respective accounts to reach the designers and the groups directly or message us @metrodotstyle so we can connect you to the designers directly.

Runway shows may be cancelled left and right but the real show of craftsmanship and design is right here when we need it most, here at home. As our fashion industry come together to make a unified garment, let’s all do our parts to help spread the word out and even lend a helping hand.

Lead art by Raff Colmenar