Nurse/designer Adrian Pe with his fellow medical frontliners in hazmats they helped create
Designers and brands sew on and on for Covid-19 frontliners
GLOSS THE RECORD - Marbbie Tagabucba (The Philippine Star) - April 3, 2020 - 12:00am

Filipino fashion is bringing on the bayanihan spirit. In the past weeks, designers and their teams have volunteered their production lines to address the shortage of personal protective equipment (PPE) for health workers fighting COVID-19, beginning with reusable fabric face masks and now extending to hazmat suits.

Keeping your hands clean is one step in preventing the spread of the coronavirus. Lifestyle brand Bench now has stepped up in producing its bestselling Alcogel sanitizers and alcohol in one-liter bottles, donating them to military frontliners in the Armed Forces of the Philippines and Camp General Emilio Aguinaldo and healthcare workers throughout the country, beginning with Philippine General Hospital, St. Luke’s Medical Center and Catarman Doctors Hospital Incorporated in Northern Samar.  

Casual wear brand Penshoppe takes part in this movement: “In this light, we are working with the factories of our vendor partners to produce urgently needed PPEs for distribution amongst our brave healthcare workers.”

Penshoppe’s vendors are already working on the first batch of suits and are targeting 20,000 units. They are also in the process of releasing an initial batch of 11,000 surgical masks for distribution to hospitals throughout the country.

Funded by donations, Stacy Rodriguez’s brands Eustacia and EC are producing 80 hazmat suits in ripstop nylon for Ospital ng Makati. Each suit costs around P500 to also provide income for her sewers as she dedicates all production lines to meet her pledge. This is following a donation of reusable fabric masks to her immediate community.

Some of The Medical City Iloilo nurse and designer Adrian Pe’s Teletubbies-themed hazmats in Tinky-Winky violet, Dipsy lime, Laa-Laa yellow and Po red are cut by his fellow frontliners themselves.

“It is not the first time we are doing this as a team. They are very skillful in so many ways,” Pe says of his colleague’s pattern-cutting skills. His team of seamstresses are on site to sew it all up. Iloilo currently has three confirmed cases. The shortage of PPEs has reached the Visayas, and Pe’s production has been approved by the hospital.

Confronted with the challenge of sourcing PPEs, Vice President Leni Robredo made a call last week for a locally-produced protective suit. London-based Mich Dulce responded to the call of duty and reverse-engineered a real isolation suit provided by Robredo’s office. With fellow designers Kendi Maristela, Lea Empalmado and AJ Dimarucot, they came up with an Open Source Protective Suit pattern and a technical pack (view it at https://drive.google.com/open?id=1Sx0Mrlxc2FDY6dZE3ckugtHe-9elq-zM) reviewed by Berkeley, California-based Facebook group Open Source COVID19 Medical Supplies. With Robredo’s office facilitating its approval, this week, it has been approved for doctor’s use with direct and critical exposure to patients by infectious disease specialist and chief medical officer of The Medical City Santa Rosa Laguna Dr. Jesus Julio Ancheta.

The recommended material is construction material Tyvek. The patterns initially suggested nylon taffeta as an alternative, but after finding it not to be 100-percent water repellant, it has been updated to taffeta with silver back lining, with the silver side facing inwards. The suits can be reused and disinfected.

While non-medical grade, the suits augment the supply for healthcare professionals so that medical grade hazmats can be allotted to those who come into close contact with patients.

According to Robredo, 32,325 PPE sets have made their way throughout NCR, Luzon and Samar Island.

Dulce is also uploading another approved pattern for female frontliners in small and medium, two-piece for toilet use.

Twelve doctors treating patients infected with the coronavirus have died from COVID-19. The shortage of protective gear exposed them to the virus. Some healthcare professionals previously resorted to using makeshift PPEs made out of plastic bags.

Can this surge in quality production also inspire more locally manufactured garments in the future? 

Known for its on-trend affordable eyewear, Sunnies Specs Optical pledged to donate 5,000 optical frames to over 50 hospitals and quarantine centers; 2,000 frames are currently being shipped and distributed while 3,000 frames are being packed for allocation. Meanwhile, 3,000 EN 166.2001 certified medical-grade googles are currently being sourced and will be donated as soon as possible. 

The brand has also shifted its communications on social media with live streams of activities you can do at home such as drawing, cooking and baking classes for those in self-quarantine who may not necessarily be in a shopping mood, but could always use a place of calm (or distraction) in these uncertain times.

 

COVID-19 PERSONAL PROTECTIVE EQUIPMENT
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