Ukrainian designers Svitlana Bevza and Ivan Frolov along with his team take selfies, as they pose in protective suits that they manufacture for local medical employees amid the spread of the novel coronavirus.

Fashion designers don’t normally replicate existing outfits. Their apparel is supposed to be creative and unique.

But a group of Ukrainian designers are now doing exactly the opposite. They are replicating the same piece, a protective suit for doctors, in order to provide local medical employees with desperately needed equipment during the novel coronavirus outbreak.

Designer Svitlana Bevza, who runs the Bevza brand, started the initiative on March 20.

“We understand that Ukraine is not ready at all in terms of protection,” Bevza told the Kyiv Post.

Ukrainian designers are not alone in this endeavor. The world’s most renowned fashion brands have volunteered to temporarily shift their specialization and produce crucial goods to help their countries fight the spread of COVID-19. Prada is making masks for Italian doctors. LVMH, the company that owns a number of brands including Louis Vuitton and Céline, is manufacturing sanitizers for French hospitals.

Ukraine has detected 162 coronavirus cases as of March 26. Five people have died from the virus, while one Ukrainian has fully recovered.

As the infection spreads throughout the country, medical employees report shortages of protective gear – masks, gloves, glasses and suits. As a result, at least four Ukrainian doctors who treated COVID-19 patients have already been infected. 

Keeping medical staff safe is crucial during a pandemic.

Doctors come into contact with infected people most often, and are exposed to the virus more than anyone else. So in order to prevent the spread of the coronavirus through doctors, Ukraine needs to protect them, Bevza says.

Main focus

The local Best Fashion Awards named Bevza Best Women’s Clothing Designer for the second time this year. The designer’s apparel has been worn by the world’s top fashion influencers, such as U.S. model and actress Emily Ratajkowski and English actress Sophie Turner.

Although her brand continues to do some of its regular business and ship orders, its main focus is now on volunteering, Bevza says.

When the designer first came up with the idea to produce suits, she contacted doctors for recommendations on how they should be made. She examined an example suit and created her own pattern.

For the production, the designer chose spunbond, a fabric-like nonwoven material used to manufacture medical masks. However, the material Bevza uses is thicker.

The main criteria is that the suit’s hood must fit the face snugly, while the sleeves have to have bands around the wrist.

After planning out her suit, Bevza teamed up with three of her friends: stylists who wanted to help. Nadiia Shapoval, Kseniia Iefremova, Sonya Soltes and Bevza divided responsibilities to organize the process – ordering requests from hospitals, organizing transportation, crowdfunding and finding and purchasing materials.

At first, the designer got her sewers involved, who mostly worked at home. But after Bevza made a post on Instagram about her initiative, multiple local designers joined her, along with their sewing teams.

Today, Bevza says, there are about 60 people working to produce and deliver suits. The list includes such brands as Frolov, Bobkova and Tago. 

Designer Ivan Frolov says that he saw Bevza’s post and decided he had to join and “do his utmost” to help.

The group has already produced hundreds of protective suits.

To follow the quarantine rules and not put their workers at risk, the designers transformed their regular production process.

Bevza’s employees, for instance, mostly work at home. When people from her team bring spunbond to them, they drop it outside of their doors to avoid personal contact. The same happens when they pick up the ready-made suits.

“We try to distance as much as possible,” Bevza says.

Meanwhile, Frolov and his brand’s director give their employees a ride to and from work so that they can avoid public transport. At the workshop, they all maintain a safe distance, the designer says.

Speed matters

Since Bevza made her initiative public, multiple people both from inside and outside the fashion industry have donated money for the project. She says that now they have enough funds to pay the tailors, who had been making suits for free.

According to Bevza, dozens of hospitals reached out to their team requesting protective suits. Often the hospitals said that they didn’t have any suits at all.

The designer says that her initiative checks their medical IDs to make sure the gear is used for the right purpose. Then, they send the suits to hospitals in small quantities to make sure everyone gets at least some.

“Later on, we will replenish them,” Bevza says.

However, the designer says that, since the gear is disposable, medical employees need many more of the suits.

Bevza says that they decided to keep producing until there is no spunbond to buy in or outside Ukraine. And they want to do it at top speed, so that by the time the infection peaks, as many doctors are protected as possible.

“Doctors need it now because, in a week, they can all get infected,” Bevza says. “Speed is the most important thing here,” she added.



Ukraine has extended its quarantine measures until April 24.
The measures shuttered most everything but hospitals, supermarkets, pharmacies, banks, gas stations and other critical enterprises.
There have been over 160 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Ukraine. The first case was identified on March 3.
Five people have died from COVID-19 in Ukraine. One person recovered.
Three Ukrainians died from COVID-19 in Italy.
How the Ukrainian government has been responding: TIMELINE
Misinformation on coronavirus is going  viral in Ukraine.
Doctor’s advice: How to stay safe.
Foreign Ministry: What you need to know about traveling to and from Ukraine now
Why the Kyiv Post isn’t making its coverage free in the times of COVID-19.

Effects on economy:

Here’s what the virus is doing to Ukraine’s economy.
Ukrainian businesses respond to the crisis.
The virus disrupts the transport sector. Ukrainian airlines canceled some flights to 16 countries due to the novel coronavirus.
The National Bank of Ukraine continued to cut the policy rate while trying to buffer the hryvnia from coronavirus panic.
The former minister of economy says half a million Ukrainians may lose their jobs in the COVID-19 crisis.