Even as fashion houses around the world are hanging up their haute couture designs to join in the battle against COVID-19, seven designers in the UAE are quietly joining the good fight by helping frontline medical workers.
#AThread4Cause, an initiative by the Arab Fashion Council (AFC), has teamed up with the Dubai Health Authority, the Dubai Design District (d3) and several top fashion houses in the UAE to create Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) for frontline healthcare workers in the UAE, including surgical masks and isolation gowns, in a new ‘emergency network’.
According to the AFC, more than 9,000 people and 385 companies, have pledged support to #AThread4Cause with UAE-based fashion designers now using their craftsmanship and haute couture flair to make surgical attire for the UAE’s healthcare industry.
Seven business partners with more than 50 tailors and pattern makers, will make the medically certified garments. To facilitate logistics, d3 is set to host a unified distribution centre, to store and deliver the protection gowns and surgical masks produced by their designers, as well as others based in the UAE with the aim to turn the community into a strategic hub for personal protective equipment (PPE) made by luxury brands.
“As the fashion capital of the Middle East, d3 is both humbled and delighted to support #AThread4Cause. With six d3-based designers, we aim to aid the life-saving work of vital medical staff by contributing to the UAE’s stockpile of gowns and face masks,” Khadija Al Bastaki, Executive Director of d3, said in a statement. “d3 is well placed to be able to cater to the needs of the local population, as well as export to the rest of the world…. This will enable #AThread4Cause to quickly receive the PPE carefully produced by highly skilled, luxury fashion designers across the Emirate.”
Al Bastaki added that the initiative that this unprecedented movie was a testament to “the value design brings to society.”
“Due to this uncertain time, the Arab fashion industry has been able to highlight its strong capacity to operate a purely local value chain” said Jacob Abrian, Founder and CEO of the Arab Fashion Council also added.
Dubai-based couture label, Michael Cinco, is among the seven d3 business partners taking part in the initiative.
Cinco, who is known as the designer to the stars having dressed celebrity names such as singer Jennifer Lopez, Bollywood star Aishwarya Rai Bachchan and former Miss Universe Pia Wurtzbach, called these “exceptional circumstances” for the world amid a global pandemic.
In a joint statement with his business partner Sayed Ali, Cinco said: “In exceptional circumstances such as this pandemic, it’s more important than ever to stand together. The future is not bleak and it’s crucial that we provide people with something to believe in. We need to demonstrate the sense of belonging, community spirit and light that only fashion can bring to our world.”
Yasmine Yeya, founder and creative director of Maison Yeya, who has been instrumental in working on the project since its inception, added: “We are facing an unprecedented situation and we are all in this together. The UAE has worked extremely hard to address the current situation and the creative community stands ready to support these efforts because it’s our duty to stand united against this challenge.”
Cinco and Maison Yeya are joined by couture label Amato, brainchild of creative designer Furne One. Emirati designer Yara Bin Shakar, Egypt’s Marmar Halim, Arab-American designer Zaid Farouki and women’s clothing retailer Si Fashion also make up the seven-strong group.
To provide the designers with ample material and to support local suppliers, d3 has established a partnership with a Dubai-based Saudi Arabian fabric manufacturer who will supply more than four tonnes of technical fabric to the participating brands.
Companies that want to enrol in the initiative and contribute positively to the UAE’s efforts to curb coronavirus and protect the vital medical professionals across the country can apply through the Arab Fashion Council’s website.
PPE or Personal Protective Equipment is defined as protective gear, such as clothing, helmets, goggles or other garments, that protect the wearer’s body from injury or infection and have been in demand ever since the coronavirus pandemic spread this year.
Members of #AThread4Cause will create items such as masks, gowns, hoodies and locally-made sanitisers for medical workers, in full compliance with the UAE and Dubai’s legislations, as well as specifications and standards approved by the DHA.