Fur Trade Joins War on Covid-19

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fur trade fights Covid-19
Around the world, people are pitching in to beat Covid-19. Photo: Canada Goose.

Shared adversity can bring out the best in people, and that’s the silver lining to the very dark cloud that is the Covid-19 pandemic. Around the world, people are helping others any which way they can, from singing opera on Italian balconies to simple acts of kindness like delivering groceries to the elderly or cleaning restrooms for truckers. So while it does not surprise us, we are proud that the fur trade is also doing its part.

Countless efforts are being made in ways we’ll never even hear about, but here are a few that have come across our desk. If you know of other efforts from the fur trade that we can add, please drop us a line at [email protected].

SEE ALSO: Letter from a Cree trapper: Nature is our refuge from Covid-19. Truth About Fur.

NY, Chicago Restart Sewing Machines

Tres Chic Furs fights Covid-19
“The coronavirus has shown how important local, small manufacturers are,” says Golfo Karageorgos. Photo: Tres Chic Furs.

It’s no wonder that New York’s fur trade has been stepping up. The city and state have been the North American epicentre of the pandemic, non-essential businesses have been shuttered, and hospitals have faced a desperate shortage of personal protective equipment (PPE).

So playing to their strengths, local furriers have been turning their hands to making masks and hospital gowns. In early April, an order was secured to provide 50,000 units to several Brooklyn hospitals, with the certainty of more to follow, and all costs to be covered by the city or state. “This opportunity allows us to perform a tremendous service for our first responders and healthcare workers on the frontline,” said an industry appeal to its members, urging others to join. “It also puts our people back to work during an economically trying time with no immediate end in sight.”

One company now busy making masks is Tres Chic Furs in the city’s Garment District. Owner Golfo Karageorgos would prefer to be making medical-grade masks, but the fabric has been hard to find, she told the New York Post. Let’s hope that situation changes, but for now her six employees are producing commercial-grade, three-ply, non-woven disposable masks, and giving them to everyone from corrections officers and supermarket workers to hospital staff. “We’re producing tens of thousands of these and giving them out as we’re making them, literally, as people need them,” she said.

“The coronavirus has shown how important local, small manufacturers are given the crisis we’re enduring right now and how broken our supply chain is,” she said. “The city tried to ban the fur industry last year, and we fought them, saying that we’re local small business owners and manufacturers and we’re the foundation of the city and what it’s built on. And if anything, this pandemic has shown how important local manufacturing and small business is.”

The Post also reported that trade group FurNYC purchased and provided 5,000 KN95 masks (certified by the Centers for Disease Control) to City Councilman Robert Cornegy to donate to two hospitals in his district.

“I’m pleased to work with the fur industry on this initiative, to manufacture masks for people and secure KN95 masks for people on the front lines in hospitals,” said Cornegy. “This is an opportunity for two forces, a politician and a unique industry, to help serve the people of New York. We should all be able to come together in crisis to do good for our city.”

Christos Furs fights Covid-19
In Chicago too, the making of face masks is keeping idle hands busy. Photo: Christos Furs / Instagram.

Meanwhile, in the Chicago suburb of Westchester, Christos Furs has begun making two types of mask. Simple MERV 13 masks will serve the public well, or if you want a mask to “last you a lifetime”, check out its double leather and double MERV 13 masks with interchangeable filters.

SEE ALSO: New priorities? Fur in a time of coronavirus. Truth About Fur.

Meanwhile in Canada

Canada Goose fights Covid-19
“We are prepared to leverage all of our resources to do what’s right for our country,” says Canada Goose boss Dani Reiss. Photo: Canada Goose.

Small and large, Canadian companies are playing their part, and that includes the largest player in the fur garment industry. Since late March, Canada Goose has been steadily expanding its production of PPE, with the aim of getting all eight of its manufacturing facilities – with some 900 employees – operating at capacity. In an Apr. 9 press release, Canada Goose said it was producing at least 60,000 gowns and scrubs per week, with contracts to produce 1.5 million L2 gowns for the federal government, and 100,000 reusable gowns for Shared Health Manitoba.

“With one of the largest Canadian apparel manufacturing infrastructures in the country, we are uniquely positioned to re-tool our facilities and refocus our teams to produce a variety of personal protective equipment,” said president and CEO Dani Reiss. “And we are prepared to leverage all of our resources to do what’s right for our country.”

Special Mentions

For sure there are others in the fur trade helping fight Covid-19, but until we hear about them, let’s close with a couple of special mentions.

The International Fur Federation has stepped up to help others in the trade contribute to their communities. Cash awards have been dispensed in Ontario, New York, Romania, Turkey, Italy, and Kastoria, Greece, to help fund medical equipment including PPE. In Ontario, the funds have been coursed through Fur Harvesters Auction for use by the North Bay Regional Health Centre Foundation. “At this awful time it’s important the fur trade does its part to support communities,” said IFF CEO Mark Oaten.

SEE ALSO: The fashion and fur industry fight back against the Covid-19 virus. International Fur Federation.

Fur Takers of America fight Covid-19
We raise our hats to Dave Hastings (front row, third from right). When he’s not running Fur Takers of America, he’s a volunteer with the fire department. Photo courtesy of Keith County News.

And last but definitely not least, we have Dave Hastings, president of the trapping association Fur Takers of America. Dave will be surprised by this accolade, but it’s really for the millions of people like him who are keeping society ticking over by providing vital services.

It started with an innocent question from me, never intending to put Dave on the spot! Did the FTA have any plans as an association to help fight Covid-19? Dave responded with frustration and embarrassment, but a sense of resignation that since most trappers live in rural areas, organizing initiatives can be challenging. “We have several ideas cooking though,” he said, determined to stay upbeat.

Dave hails from a small community of perhaps 100 people, he explained. “My neighbors are elderly and immune-compromised. We, all the close neighbours, pitch in – scoop the walks, pull the trash containers out on trash days, pick up items at the stores, help with transportation, carry the mail to houses.”

“So the members of our community are pretty engaged, much as they would be everywhere I hope,” he continued. “Lots of mask-sewing going on all over. Red Cross blood drives – even under the cloud of Covid risk, we are still gathering much-needed blood for our hospitals.”

Well, that sounds great, I thought. And then came the icing on the cake!

“I’m a volunteer on the local Fire/Rescue team. Our protocols about emergency response are a little intimidating under the circumstances, but we still definitely respond to ambulance-assist calls, car accidents, fires, just about any 911-related need. Not a man or woman on the crew has asked to step down.”

So it’s hats off to everyone in the trade busy making PPE! And it’s hats off also to everyone helping in other ways! You may not have a sewing machine or be a fireman, but we can all help in the fight against Covid-19. And remember, if you know of someone in our trade who’s answered the call to arms, please let us know at [email protected].

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1 Comment

  • this is great to see…I am curious if anyone is looking into the potential non-fashion uses of natural fur… fibre, leather, etc…natural materials from a sustainable source like furbearers may have applications in bio-medical or other industrial sectors that could create needed markets. I have no knowledge of the potential, but wondering if anyone is looking into this

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