NEW YORK, NY- Today, Congresswoman B. Maloney (NY-12) announced two new initiatives to promote American manufacturing, save jobs here at home, and save lives. First, she is requesting that the Government Accountability Office (GAO) conduct a study on how to stabilize the supply chain of personal protective equipment (PPE), including harnessing American manufacturing capabilities. She also plans to introduce legislation, the Made in America: Preparation for a Pandemic Act, that would require a percentage of the strategic national stockpile of PPE be made in the United States to ensure we are prepared for future crises.
These announcements follow the Congresswoman’s work with Fashion for the Frontlines, Fashion Girls for Humanity, Care+Wear, and the Manufacturers Coalition to produce more than one million non-surgical PPE isolation gowns to distribute to hospitals and governments in New York City and across the nation.
“In the midst of a global pandemic, having strong domestic production of PPE is absolutely essential to keeping Americans safe. I’m so proud that New York City’s fashion industry has answered the call of duty by working quickly to get PPE to our front line heath workers. This coalition is a testament to the strength, resiliency, and compassion of New York City’s fashion industry, whose members have shown our entire nation what it means to be New York Strong. I admire the grassroots effort to produce and distribute vital PPE during the COVID-19 crisis, but in preparation for future pandemics we must ensure that the United States has a sufficient national stockpile and a strong operation to produce our own PPE. That is why I am requesting a GAO study on how to stabilize the supply chain of PPE to harness American manufacturing capabilities and plan to introduce legislation, the Made in America: Preparation for a Pandemic Act, that would require a percentage of the strategic national stockpile of PPE be manufactured in America,” said Congresswoman Maloney.
Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, Congresswoman Maloney established a roundtable discussion group of New York City designers, manufacturers, and industry leaders to support New York City’s garment industry and understand the nexus between technology and fashion. When the pandemic delayed the coalition’s plan to meet in person and the dire need for PPE became apparent, the group pivoted their focus and formed a task force to see how the fashion industry could manufacture desperately needed PPE for front line workers. Members of this task force have since formed Fashion for the Front Lines and partnered with Fashion Girls for Humanity, Care+Wear, and the Manufacturers Coalition to create these much needed supplies.
“The congresswoman was in contact with me prior to the pandemic to learn more about the fashion and technology industries in New York City for a roundtable discussion. This collaboration between the Congresswoman and this roundtable group evolved in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Congresswoman’s mission was way ahead of everyone in terms of focusing on this topic and getting this group organized. Once we pivoted towards this new mission to secure PPE, we then had an open line of communication to support and protect local manufacturers such as Mi Jong Lee of Emmelle Designs, Boaz David of Human B and Nora Gardner, and to assist the EDC with locating their ten primes. As Chair of the Board of Parsons School of Design and a former fashion designer based in the Garment District for many years, this speaks near and dear to my heart. Protecting this current generation of the fashion industry here in New York is essential for securing its future. Representative Maloney’s support is an essential component to the survival of the New York City Garment Industry,” said Kay Unger, Co-Chair of Fashion for the Front Lines and Chair of Parsons School of Design Board of Governors.
“A few months ago, a few of our hospital partners reached out desperate to find reliable PPE to help protect their staff risking their lives on the front lines. In collaboration with our suppliers and local designers such as Mi Jong Lee, we have been able to provide millions of units of PPE to help hospitals and governments all over the USA. We have been proud to work collaboratively with so many great factories and companies and are looking forward to continuing the great work to protect the amazing patients and clinicians each and every day,” said Chaitenya Razdan, Co-Founder and CEO of Care+Wear and Member of Fashion for the Front Lines.
“After our world came to a shocking paralysis with the pandemic, as a small business independent designer and garment manufacturer recovering from the virus, I decided to pivot into PPE gown manufacturing. I reached out to Congresswoman Maloney for desperate help in this endeavor and was amazed when I got a call back the same day, I will be forever grateful for that generosity. I formed the NYC Manufacturers Coalition (with Pauline Lock of InStyle USA and Tony Singh of Four Seasons Fashion Manufacturing Inc.) to be able to meet output thresholds and form a community of collaborators to support each other through this devastating period. I was introduced to Kay Unger of Fashion for the Front Lines by the Congresswoman, and with her support connected with the nonprofit humanitarian organization of Fashion Girls for Humanity. The NYC Manufacturers Coalition just finished our second delivery of the PPE gowns to NYEDC and with the FGFH platform and delivered the first 1,000 gown donation to underfunded hospitals. We are in production of a second 1,000 gown for donation. It is an honor to be in this community, city and country,” said Mi Jong Lee, Designer and Founder of Emmelle Designs and Founder of NYC Manufacturers Coalition.
“Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney was instrumental in bringing this group together to address a major need in the New York community, one that will continue to help save lives as long as the demand continues. She was able to bolster these incredible groups – Fashion for the Front Lines, Fashion Girls for Humanity, and The RealReal – in our mission to keep those in the fashion industry employed and those working in our hospitals safe. We should continue to value this type of representation from our elected officials,” said Julie Gilhart, Chief Development Officer of Tomorrow Limited and President of Tomorrow Consulting, Co-Founder of Fashion Girls for Humanity, and Member of Fashion for the Front Lines.
- Kay Unger is the Chair of the Parsons Board of Governors, and along with Morty Singer of Traub Associates she serves as Co-Chair of Fashion for the Front Lines, a New York City based task force that was created in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Fashion for the Front Lines is a strictly volunteer group comprised of designers, retailers, manufacturers and distributors working to facilitate the production and distribution of PPE. Throughout this process, Kay worked with Congresswoman Maloney to make sure the appropriate parties were connected and able to quickly produce PPE.
- Chaitenya Razdan is the CEO and founder of Care+Wear, which provided hospital, government, and health system partners with a broad range of personal protective clothing. From money raised on the Fashion Girls for Humanity platform, Care+Wear helped donate 1,000 isolation gowns designed by Mi Jong Lee to Maimonides Medical Center and BronxCare Health System. As a member of Fashion for the Front Lines, Chaitenya spoke with the heads of procurement a various hospitals and shared what was necessary to produce medical grade PPE.
- Mi Jong Lee is the Designer and CEO of Emmelle Designs and Founder of the NYC Manufacturers Coalition. After being diagnosed with COVID-19 and witnessing the PPE shortage first-hand while in the hospital, Mi Jong pivoted to making medical grade isolation gowns for NYC hospitals and worked with other factories to get PPE to where it was needed most.
- Julie Gilhart is the Chief Development Officer of Tomorrow Limited and President of Tomorrow Consulting, a member of Fashion for the Front Lines, and Co-Founder of Fashion Girls for Humanity. Julie used her contacts who raised money with Fashion Girls for Humanity to purchase 1,000 non-medical isolation gowns produced by Mi Jong Lee of Emmelle Designs and her NYC manufacturing consortium. The gowns were then delivered via donated trucks from The RealReal to Maimonedes Medical Center and BronxCare Health System.
A full video of today’s press conference can be viewed here.