These Designers Made 300,000 Medical Gowns at the Height of the Pandemic—And


Designers who are used to making something out of nothing stepped up immediately. While an N95 mask isn’t something you can fashion in a design studio, a medical gown—the protective layer healthcare workers wear over their scrubs for procedures and to protect themselves from viruses—isn’t fundamentally all that different from, say, a T-shirt or a cotton dress. Tiefermann, Baylis, and Rothenberg’s skills as designers, pattern-makers, and product developers had never felt more relevant.

A completed gown ready to pack and distribute to New York hospitals
A completed gown ready to pack and distribute to New York hospitalsPhotographed by Ryan Lowry

“When we heard Cuomo’s call to designers and manufacturers to come up with creative solutions for the PPE shortage, we started brainstorming and realized we knew how to do this,” Rothenberg remembers. They knew the ins and outs of fabric research, prototyping, tech packs, and, importantly, they had longstanding relationships with Garment District factories. They spent a week sourcing materials and talking to doctors, nurses, and the FDA to better understand the requirements of medical gear, picking up new terms like “hydrostatic head” (the measure of a fabric’s water-resistance). “We just kept educating ourselves,” Rothenberg says.

Garment District for Gowns was the first organization to receive a PPE grant from the New York government which they...
Garment District for Gowns was the first organization to receive a PPE grant from the New York government, which they used to hire New York garment workers who had been furloughed.Photographed by Ryan Lowry

Baylis, who led their fabric research, explained the nuances of FDA regulations and compliance: “Surgical gowns require rigorous testing, and other [non-sterile] gowns come at four different levels, usually dependent on how much fluid will penetrate the fabric. When you’re testing the product, you have to test your seams and fabric at critical points, and the fabric must be biocompatible with skin,” she continues. “Doctors and nurses wear these gowns for hours at a time. Are they breathable, comfortable, non-irritating? We were very stringent throughout the entire process to make sure we can provide the best possible gowns.”



Read More:These Designers Made 300,000 Medical Gowns at the Height of the Pandemic—And

These Designers Made 300,000 Medical Gowns at the Height of the Pandemic—And


Designers who are used to making something out of nothing stepped up immediately. While an N95 mask isn’t something you can fashion in a design studio, a medical gown—the protective layer healthcare workers wear over their scrubs for procedures and to protect themselves from viruses—isn’t fundamentally all that different from, say, a T-shirt or a cotton dress. Tiefermann, Baylis, and Rothenberg’s skills as designers, pattern-makers, and product developers had never felt more relevant.

A completed gown ready to pack and distribute to New York hospitals
A completed gown ready to pack and distribute to New York hospitalsPhotographed by Ryan Lowry

“When we heard Cuomo’s call to designers and manufacturers to come up with creative solutions for the PPE shortage, we started brainstorming and realized we knew how to do this,” Rothenberg remembers. They knew the ins and outs of fabric research, prototyping, tech packs, and, importantly, they had longstanding relationships with Garment District factories. They spent a week sourcing materials and talking to doctors, nurses, and the FDA to better understand the requirements of medical gear, picking up new terms like “hydrostatic head” (the measure of a fabric’s water-resistance). “We just kept educating ourselves,” Rothenberg says.

Garment District for Gowns was the first organization to receive a PPE grant from the New York government which they...
Garment District for Gowns was the first organization to receive a PPE grant from the New York government, which they used to hire New York garment workers who had been furloughed.Photographed by Ryan Lowry

Baylis, who led their fabric research, explained the nuances of FDA regulations and compliance: “Surgical gowns require rigorous testing, and other [non-sterile] gowns come at four different levels, usually dependent on how much fluid will penetrate the fabric. When you’re testing the product, you have to test your seams and fabric at critical points, and the fabric must be biocompatible with skin,” she continues. “Doctors and nurses wear these gowns for hours at a time. Are they breathable, comfortable, non-irritating? We were very stringent throughout the entire process to make sure we can provide the best possible gowns.”



Read More:These Designers Made 300,000 Medical Gowns at the Height of the Pandemic—And