The Armani Group was the first company in Italy to take up the fight against the spread of coronavirus when it decided to hold its Milan Fashion week show behind closed doors. That was back on February 23. All Armani stores and restaurants have been shut since March 10, the day Italy’s lockdown began in earnest and factories were temporarily shut down. Within a remarkably short period, the Armani Group converted all production at its four Italian factories to manufacture single-use medical overalls for the individual protection of health-care providers fighting the coronavirus.
At the time, Giorgio Armani said, “The health and wellbeing of my employees have always been and continue to be my priority.” “We have been following and often anticipating, the measures being adopted in all countries,” he continued.
After pledging to donate 1.25 million euros to Italy’s Civil Protection and a range of Italian hospitals and institutions in the country, including the Luigi Sacco, San Raffaele and the Istituto dei Tumori in Milan and Rome’s Istituto Lazzaro Spallanzani, Giorgio Armani has also decided to contribute to support the hospitals of Bergamo and Piacenza, both badly hit by the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as the Versilia Hospital in Tuscany, bringing the total of his donations to 2 million euros.
Two weeks ago, Giorgio Armani said, “What worries me most is the health emergency that’s taking place, both in our country and all over the world. It’s too early to evaluate the long-term economic impact, which will surely be significant. But history teaches us that new opportunities are born from the deepest moments of crisis.”
Armani also took a full-page ad in more than 60 newspapers in Italy, writing a letter thanking all of the health-care providers strenuously fighting the virus outbreak and encouraging others to lend their support.
Others Join the Fight
The iconic fashion designer’s vocal and financial support did not go unnoticed. Since his initial statements, many of Italy’s wealthiest individuals and families have joined the battle. Even though some of the country’s top export industries are taking a sharp hit, industry leaders are not backing down from the fight.
Remo Ruffini, the chairman and CEO of luxury sportswear brand Moncler, contributed 10 million euros for the construction of a new hospital at the Fiera Milano Exhibition Center, which will house more than 400 intensive care units. “Milan is a city that has given us all an extraordinary time,” said Ruffini “We cannot and must not abandon it. It is everyone’s duty to give back to the city what it has given us so far.”
Three-time Prime Minister of Italy and current member of the European Parliament, Silvio Berlusconi, also gave 10 million euros for the new hospital. His donation was matched by Leonardo Del Vecchio of eyewear titan Essilor Luxottica for the same facility, but he one-upped the former Prime Minister by also including six respirators.
Giovanni Ferrero and Maria Franca Fissolo, owners of confectionery maker Ferrero, gave 10 million euros to the Italian government’s national emergency commission to fight the virus, while Ennio Doris, chairman of Banca Mediolanum gave five million euros to the authorities in the region of Veneto, which is also battling with a significant outbreak. The Benetton family donated three million euros to hospitals in Milan, Rome and Treviso.
The Aleotti family owners of Menarini, one of Italy’s largest pharmaceutical companies, announced it would convert its production line in Florence to make disinfectant gel to be distributed free to Italy’s civil protection agency.
In many different ways, individuals have joined the campaign. Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana of Dolce & Gabbana made an undisclosed donation to Humanitas University in Milan, to advance research into the immune system’s response to COVID-19. In Milan, Patrizio Bertelli and Miuccia Prada donated intensive care and resuscitation units to the Vittore Buzzi, Sacco and San Raffaele hospitals and converted production at their factory in Perugia to make 80,000 medical overalls and 110,000 masks for healthcare workers in the Tuscany region.
Repurposing equipment to help the medical professionals on the front lines is the new order of the day in Italy. Veronesi’s clothing group, Calzedonia, has converted production at several plants to manufacture masks and medical gowns, with initial production of 10,000 masks a day.