Harlem Haberdashery: fashion and philanthropy during COVID-19

AMBER BORDEN | 4/13/2020, 7:01 p.m.
It is no secret that there is a lack of personal protective equipment (PPE) across the country due to the ...
Gown by Harlem Haberdashery co-created with The.Dott NYC Harlem Haberdashery photo

It is no secret that there is a lack of personal protective equipment (PPE) across the country due to the rise in demand for protection against COVID-19. This shortage is leaving medical workers unequipped to safely protect themselves and their patients. Harlem Haberdashery, along with their parent company 5001 Flavors, is using their resources to help produce PPE for medical workers during the pandemic.

Known as the “retail expression of 5001 Flavors,” Harlem Haberdashery was created in 1992 by husband and wife duo, Guy Sr. Wood and Sharene Wood. Their work has gained notoriety within the entertainment industry from their work with notable celebrities. The mission of the Harlem Haberdashery is to “provide a Red Carpet experience for all of our guests.” However, what happens to that mission when a pandemic forces all business doors shut? Adaptability and collaboration.

“The entire Harlem Haberdashery family is committed to always using fashion and philanthropy to help change the world and fight against this life-changing pandemic. We will use our fashion background and contacts to help make the world safer instead of just fashionable for now,” said Guy Wood, creative director of 5001 FLAVORS and Harlem Haberdashery in a statement.

The initiative to help was catapulted when president and CEO of Harlem Haberdashery, Sharene Wood, received design requests from private citizens to generate medical grade masks and gowns. “

My contacts had contacted me to fulfill orders for some family members and hospital workers who needed support. Our first initial orders were for people who wanted to donate to hospitals,” said Wood. Operating as a philanthropic team, Harlem Haberdashery and 5001 Flavors along with #TakeCareOfHarlem and The.Dott NYC are collaborating as a unit to get the necessary work done. The.Dott NYC is producing medical grade PPE (masks and gowns) and with that production the team donates the PPE to various New York Hospitals, one of which is a long time community partner, the NYC Health & Hospitals/Harlem (Harlem Hospital Center.

“This unfortunate pandemic was a perfect reason to use our design connect. It’s definitely a community need. Using the design intelligence and resources we have is the exact thing we need right now,” said Wood. Brenda Polanco, owner of The.Dott NYC, was called on by Sharene Wood to help assist with manufacturing. When developing the PPE, all staffers are adhering to social distancing, as well as wearing PPE of their own. “We have a professional cleaning and disinfectant process, every employee adheres to the recommendations,” explained Wood. Polanco explained in a statement that, “We had the offices and work rooms professionally decontaminated. We will be providing all workers with gloves, masks and disposable gowns, as well as all essential cleaning products necessary to ensure a clean and safe work environment.” Therefore the work isn’t counteracting itself and everyone is able to remain safe.

According to the World Health Organization, “WHO is working with governments, industry and the Pandemic Supply Chain Network to boost production and secure allocations for critically affected and at-risk countries.” Yet the work of Harlem Haberdashery, 5001 Flavors, #TakeCareOfHarlem, and The.Dott NYC is showing the power in community service. Funding donations have been and currently are being made from private citizens and companies to help with the creation of medical grade PPE through Cash App and PayPal. Donations are also going to Mount Sinai West and Harlem Hospital Center. In terms of creating PPE for non-medical workers in the community, it is a desire but realistically to Sharene Wood, that side of production will unfortunately be put on pause. “It can be done but I am trying to fulfill all of the requests we have, my plan is one thing but reality is to adapt the program as we go. I feel the need is going to be longer and the protection of our frontline workers are priority,” said Wood.