IBrands CEO Sees PPE Becoming a Wardrobe and Cultural Staple for Years to Come
In January, Remy Garson, CEO of IBrands Global, acted quickly to convert his manufacturing facilities in the U.S. and China to assist in the worldwide effort to create a supply of personal protective equipment (PPE) to battle the coronavirus pandemic and has halted production of all other goods.
“I started seeing things getting really bad in China, the early warnings signs, and our factories immediately started applying for FDA permits to make masks,” Garson told Sourcing Journal. “By the time we started hearing about coronavirus cases in the United States, we started converting our essential oil and skincare factories in the U.S.–one each in California and Pennsylvania–into making sanitizer. The demand for sanitizer is off the charts right now and I’m sure it will stay that way for the next 20 years. And we’re making plans to just be permanently in making sanitizers.”
Early on during the crisis there was a lot volatility, he said, where supply chains were disrupted and factories were price gouging. Air freight also became more expensive than usual, and the company is now also shipping by boat as the supply chain needs get longer.
“We have extensive operations in China and do a lot of fashion, as well as handbags and luggage,” Garson said. “We’re relying on the fact that we had existing infrastructure in China, which gave us the ability to help people because you can’t get people into the country now. Logistics is out of control, but we have our own logistics network. There was also a lot of fraud and counterfeits at the beginning. You had the Chinese government taking over facilities. Now, we feel we have pretty solid infrastructure in place and we’re shipping to the United States, Spain, Puerto Rico.”
IBrands is also on a mission to make 10 million masks by establishing a secure supply chain in China, where most of the fashion is produced for the companies brands that include Pam & Gela, Brookstone, EBY, Bebe, BluZen, Catherine Malandrino and Alloy Apparel.
“People are thinking about hygiene like they never did before,” Garson said. “A lot of fashion companies are starting to make fashion masks. Gela from Pam & Gela is designing masks. What you’re going to see is a portion of IBrands is going to stay in PPE because demand is going to remain a part of our future. Then we gradually start making fashion product for our brands.”
Meanwhile, companies continue to step up to aid relief efforts around the world.
The PVH Foundation announced an additional $1 million, for a total commitment of more than $2 million, toward COVID-19 relief efforts. The additional donation will support frontline medical workers, the fight against food insecurity, supply chain and industry relief, and community resiliency.
The PVH Foundation also is working with PVH Corp.’s long-term partner Better Work, a collaboration between the International Labor Organization and International Finance Corporation. Funds will be used to support activities benefitting suppliers and workers through the COVID-19 crisis.
Organizations to receive contributions from The PVH Foundation have been selected by PVH associates in locations around the world. Support will be targeted in Asia, Australia, Brazil, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain, the U.K. and the U.S. to organizations that will best address local needs.
In addition, PVH had also made a $275,000 contribution to the Chinese Society of the Red Cross, as well as a $50,000 contribution to A Common Thread, the CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund initiative to provide support and raise awareness for those in the American fashion community who have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
PVH’s Calvin Klein and Tommy Hilfiger divisions have donated product in the U.S., Netherlands, U.K. and Italy to support frontline healthcare workers and will continue to give product where it is needed the most. Calvin Klein is also a founding partner and donor of OutRight Action International’s COVID-19 Global LGBTIQ Emergency Fund.