Vibram, Nike, HanesBrands Respond to COVID-19

Citing ongoing developments in Europe and the rest of the world, Vibram late last week decided to temporarily suspend production at its Albizzate, Italy facility for at least a week, and to close Vibram stores in Milan and Montebelluna, Italy and Boston. At the same time, Vibram production in the Far East and Guangzhou, China (at the Vibram Tech Center) has resumed and the company’s U.S. production continues to be carefully monitored.

Meanwhile at Nike, members of the company’s innovation and manufacturing teams are currently exploring designs for Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for doctors and nurses Nike senior executives told analysts last night. Thus far, the effort has included prototyping face shields for teams at Oregon Health & Science University.

North Carolina-based Hanesbrands (HBI) has pivoted from T-shirt, underwear, sock and fleece production to FDA-approved masks under a federal government contract for use when N-95 masks are not required or are unavailable. HBI has joined a cooperative consortium of major apparel and textile suppliers led by Parkdale Mills America that are dedicating manufacturing capacity to meet the country’s need for this type of Personal Protection Equipment (PPE).

Utilizing the expertise of its supply chain and R&D employees, the company swiftly moved from product development, approval and the commencement of production in less than a week, it said. Hanesbrands, using U.S. cotton-spun yarn from Parkdale, is making cotton fabric at its textile manufacturing plants in El Salvador and the Dominican Republic and using the fabric in its own sewing facilities in El Salvador, Honduras and the Dominican Republic to make the masks.

Hanesbrands anticipates ramping up mask production to 1.5 million units weekly. The consortium as a whole is expected to produce 5 to 6 million masks weekly using Hanesbrands’ designs and patterns.