The shops of The Tannery Manila are closed, but work continues. Only this time, the leather specialist is making personal protective equipment (PPE) for doctors and nurses instead of its premium backpacks, totes, and bag accessories. Like many fashion labels, big or small, local or global, The Tannery has rallied to support frontliners by doing what it does best, leveraging its manufacturing know-how into the creation of much-needed PPE.
The Tannery Manila has donated over 1,000 isolation gowns.
To date, Tannery, under its Suits for a Cause project, has donated 1,000 isolation gowns to more than 75 hospitals in Luzon, from East Avenue Medical Center in Diliman to Ospital ng Cabuyao in Laguna and everywhere in between. The brand has also sold 1,000 bunny suits at cost (for the same price as it produced the suit), as well as raised funds for 250 indigent families by selling these suits at a slightly higher price.
It was a personal connection that set the label on its course. Even before the extended community quarantine was announced, its owners became aware of the difficulties of hospital workers, who were overwhelmed by the surge of patients with COVID-19 symptoms. “Our frontliner friends were fearful for their safety due to the lack of PPEs,” remembers Mariel Lazaro, co-owner of Goldenhide Enterprises, the company under which the brand operates, and project head of the Suits for a Cause program.
The Tannery explored donating disposable PPE but found that the most affordable set, which was not even in stock, cost P1,800. In short, its pledge of P100,000 would only be able to buy 55 PPE. And so it pursued a different approach, tapping its resources, including sister brand Chelsi Leather & Services, to manufacture the gowns itself.
“In a matter of days, we produced a pattern and made several prototypes. We made an isolation gown and a one-piece coverall, which had different functions in protection,” says Lazaro. “In a week, we were able to produce our first batch of 300 PPE isolation gowns.”
The suits are produced in Valenzuela, Quezon City, and Marikina.
Through its Facebook page, Tannery announced the first donation of PPE on March 30 and then its second batch of donation on April 15. Later updates about the project included a call for fabric suppliers as Tannery was struggling to meet the demand from frontliners.
Apart from the shortage of fabric, the switch from making leathergoods to creating PPE went smoothly. Both Mariel’s mother and The Tannery’s patternmaker had experience in making clothes, while the brand’s manufacturing partners also had equipment for its production.
The gowns were first made in The Tannery’s factory in Bulacan, but because of the ECQ, the production shifted to Valenzuela, Quezon City, and Marikina, Now, garment workers, who can work from home, are producing the units. “Though we wanted everything done in-house, with the urgency of the situation, it was more important to deliver fast quality PPE gowns and suits,” says Mariel.
The bright PPE gowns make frontliners happy.
One noticeable thing about The Tannery’s PPE is how they come in a variety of bright colors (yellow! peach!) and even an all-over pattern—a quality that has been positively received by people. “We were amazed with the response as a lot of our beneficiaries really liked the unique, colorful, and printed fabric. They said it cheered up the mood of their patients and gave a positive vibe in the midst of what they were going through,” says Mariel.
The print—a riot of hothouse flowers with what looks like leopards hiding among the storms of petals—is courtesy of a designer fabric that was used for making the bags of Lazaro’s aunt, Cora Jacobs, a famous bag designer in the ’90s. “This is waterproof on the outside and cotton on the inside to make the heat more bearable. It was among the fabrics used in our donation drive,” she adds about the laminated cotton.
Nylon Taffeta coveralls are now available, too.
With the success of its PPE donation drive and requests still pouring in, Tannery Manila has recently launched the next phase of the project: the production and sale of nylon taffeta coveralls.
The proceeds of the coveralls, which are priced at P700 each and can serve as outdoor protective gear, will serve as funds for more donations of frontliner PPE. “Through this project, we would be able to continuously help our frontliners not only in Metro Manila but in the entire country as we slowly transition to the new normal,” says Mariel.
This story originally appeared on Esquiremag.ph. Minor edits have been made by the Preview.ph editors.