Governments around the world are tapping every industry they could to help in the fight against COVID-19, which so far has claimed 30,000 lives and affected 650,000 individuals.
American fashion designer Christian Siriano made headlines weeks ago for his efforts to make washable and reusable face masks for health workers. American footwear brand New Balance has also followed suit and is now manufacturing masks in their US factories.
In Manila, designer Mich Dulce is leading the charge among local creatives to create a protective suit for medical frontliners in partnership with the Office of the Vice President Leni Robredo. Dulce first took to social media a week ago to call on local designers who have studios still in operation to help out in producing personal protective equipment (PPE) such as suits, masks and shoe covers.[READ: The return of Mich Dulce]
In an Instagram post dated Mar. 20, Dulce said they are coordinating with Vice President Leni Robredo to make prototypes based off protective gear the OVP lent them. The designer and her team were able to reverse engineer a pattern from that suit, later sharing the open-source and downloadable design pattern based on an isolation suit.
According to the OVP, the design was medically reviewed in Berkeley, California with a recommendation that the material Tyvek should be used. However, Tyvek turned out to be unavailable in the country so instead, they scoured local fabric suppliers to look for similar materials that will protect health workers.
“It took us more than 48 hrs of going back & forth—until this afternoon, we got word that, finally, our prototype has been approved!” said Robredo on a Twitter thread.
On Sunday, Mar. 29, Dulce shared that the first suit has been approved for use of doctors with direct critical exposure to patients. The said design was made by Joey Socco using a material called taffeta silver back lining (SBL), a fabric suggested by Dr. Reina Tajonera, after infectious diseases specialist Dr. Jesus Julio Ancheta inspected the design.
The suit made with taffeta SBL can be washed, disinfected and reused repeatedly.
On her official Facebook page, Vice President Robredo proudly announced that “We can go full steam into production now” with large-sized suits first.
Dulce said she and her team will be uploading another approved pattern for women frontliners in small and medium sizes that come as separates to make it easier to use especially during restroom breaks.
The designer said they were emotional after the approval having worked days and nights conceptualizing the design.
“Super naiyak kami,” she said while also reminding other creatives who are working with other fabrics not to worry. “They can still be allocated to other health workers/staff appropriately. Let’s just all keep making what we can.”
Header photo courtesy of the Vice President Leni Gerona Robredo Facebook page
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Writer: CHRISTIAN SAN JOSE