During the COVID-19 pandemic Ukraine’s fashion industry is turning over its manufacturing capacities to help provide healthcare workers with scrubs.
The brains behind the initiative is the founder of BEVZA fashion brand, designer Svitlana Bevza.
Later more Ukrainian fashion industry professionals joined the volunteer initiative. Ukraine’s “The Day” newspaper sat with Svitlana Bevza and Iryna Danylevska, founder and chief organizer of Ukrainian Fashion Week, to talk about the fashion industry’s effort to contribute to the fight against coronavirus. EMPR picks the talk’s highlights, read on.
The Day: Ukrainian fashion designers were civically engaged during the Revolution of Dignity. Right now, in times of the coronavirus pandemic, designers have come up with new initiatives. What is it that fashion industry professionals are helping out with during these difficult times?
Iryna Danylevska: Indeed, volunteering is typical of Ukrainian designers. Demonstrating their civic position is not new to them. Assistance during the Maidan is a great reference. Unfortunately or luckily, Ukraine still needs such a civil or volunteer movement, while designers stand always ready to land a hand. It is now of the utmost importance to protect the medics, as we do understand that Ukraine’s preparedness to fight the pandemic is not very optimistic. It is not only about the lack of medicine or ventilators, but also about personal protective equipment for healthcare providers.
So, designers decided to contribute and support the healthcare workers. This huge charity movement was started by Svitlana Bevza, founder of BEVZA brand. Soon Ivan Frolov (of the Frolov brand) and TAGO joined the initiative, later more designers came in. Fashion designer Lyudmyla Kyslenko also teamed up with several designers. They are all sewing scrubs for medics. These are mostly single-use scrub suits from thin fabrics.
Svitlana Bevza and Ivan Frolov made an important decision – they posted online open access the sewing patterns for scrubs. Anyone can use them to sew scrubs for healthcare workers. People all around the world are finding and using them. We learnt that these sewing patterns by Ukrainian designers were used in the U.S. as well. The online patterns are accompanied by the step-by-step guide.
The Day: Svitlana, how did you come up with the idea to manufacture scrubs for medics?
Svitlana Bevza: I got this idea when we woke up to the fact that the virus is nearing Ukraine. If highly developed countries, like France or Italy, turned to be unprepared, it was obvious that so would us. Lives and health of Ukrainians depend upon doctors and their work. To quicker combat the virus, we need to equip doctors in the first place.
It all started when I wrote a post on Facebook, my friends from the fashion industry, stylists called me and said that they are joining the charity. Later other fellow designers called me. As a result we formed a volunteer group from the fashion industry.
The Day: What logistical difficulties is your work having in quarantine?
Iryna Danylevska: Organizing the work of sewing workers is complicated, as we need to respect all restrictive measures. Thus, Ivan Frolov drives each of his seamstresses to work and back home. They obviously work in masks respecting the distance from each other.
The Day: How do the designers choose the hospitals that need help? Are they in touch with the Healthcare Ministry?
Iryna Danylevska: No. Svitlana Bevza was clear about it from the very beginning. She said: “I absolutely do not want to cooperate with state agencies. No comment.” It is not about trust. She wanted to avoid all formal procedures and send ready-made items to hospitals that will be directly asking for help. Many doctors are writing asking for scrubs. I also get these requests, as I help coordinate the work. For example, medics from Zhytomyr and Ternopil wrote me.
Svitlana Bevza: It’s true. We don’t work with any state organizations, foundations or agencies. People directly send us cloth, some – money. We accept money only from the donators that we know in person. Our friends from the fashion industry are making a lot of donations.
As to how we choose the hospitals, we made a questionnaire in Google Docs, medics can fill it out to leave their request for help.
Iryna Danylevska: We use the following principle: infectious disease hospitals designated to care for COVID-19 patients get the scrubs first. For example, if doctors from Oleksandrivska hospital (Kyiv’s hospital designated to treat COVID-19 patients – EMPR) send us a request, it is of higher priority than, say, the one from a dental clinic.
Svitlana Bevza: We’ve prioritized things from the very beginning. As we are Kyiv-based and many coronavirus cases are recorded here, we are supplying Kyiv-based infectious disease hospitals with scrubs. We do accept healthcare workers’ requests from elsewhere in Ukraine. We have received a total of 1.700 requests (as of April 6). We deliver the scrubs ourselves, we don’t use the services of volunteer organizations or delivery.
The Day: How do the medics react to your assistance?
Svitlana Bevza: With tears in their eyes. On the first day my Facebook and Instagram were exploding. People are writing that doctors have nothing to protect themselves with. Unfortunately, what happens in hospitals is scary, but so things are all around the world. My New York acquaintances, tailors asked me to give them sewing patterns. Not a single country is properly prepared for the pandemic.
Iryna Danylevska: This whole situation is very illustrative of our society: we do trust each other. We are ready to write to strangers living 500 km from us: “Please, help us, we really need 50 scrubs.” You know what really moved me? When I answered: “Fifty won’t be enough for you, they are single-use.“ They replied: “We understand, but we cannot ask a lot immediately, others need them as well.”
Source: The DayTags: covid-19 Ukraine