Since the COVID-19 pandemic started sweeping across the globe, medical professionals on the frontlines have been caring for an unprecedented amount of patients. When Arc’teryx heard there was a shortage of medical gowns in their community, they decided to do what they do best: create protective gear. In April, they teamed up with sewers, engineers and pattern makers to develop a reusable medical gown.
Equipping professionals on the COVID-19 frontlines
After producing an initial 500 gowns for British Columbia health professionals, they are in the process of manufacturing 30,000 more. A total of 90,000 medical gowns will be produced between Arc’teryx and their partners, Mustang Survival and Boardroom Clothing.
Arc’teryx also made the pattern open source via the BC Apparel & Gear Association, enabling other manufacturers to provide protective gowns to their local healthcare workers. We asked them about their journey.
Altitude Sports: What made the team at Arc’teryx decide they were going to start using their resources to make medical gowns?
Arc’teryx: I don’t think we thought too much about why we wanted to be involved. We had a clear call for help from our local medical community and we just did what we knew how to do best. There wasn’t much we could do on the medical frontlines, but as apparel designers and manufacturers, we could turn our expertise to support the medical community in this fight. Creating the right gear is something we know how to do, and by making the pattern open source, we hope others with manufacturing capabilities can bring more protective equipment to those communities in need.
Altitude Sports: Medical gowns are a change from technical outdoor apparel. How is the design and manufacturing process different?
Arc’teryx: Arc’teryx is known for waterproof, breathable technology that’s typically achieved through materials like Gore-Tex. But it’s really about managing weather and the ability to sustain comfort in inclement weather. If you’re comfortable, you’ll go longer at what you’re doing—whether that’s on a mountain top or in protective gear at a hospital, you want to perform better or longer. You’ll generally feel safer as well—gear shouldn’t be something you think about.
It wasn’t as much different as it was a shift in speed. Solving problems with sewn solutions is what we do. The technical need and the end user was different and we just leaned into understanding what this was as quickly as we could so that we could come up with a solution that would work with what was within the constraints we were given.
*Please note that the medical gowns are not available for sale at this time. Arc’teryx is currently manufacturing gowns for local British Columbia communities and are being distributed by health authorities.