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From suits to scrubs and an uncertain future

This tailoring shop is making and donating PPEs, even in the downturn.

41 Malumanay is unusually empty.

Just a couple of months ago, you could hardly find a parking spot here, at the address where JE&Co. stands. It’s a tailoring boutique that’s been around for a little over five years, counting businessmen, celebrities, and athletes among its clients. Normally, you could walk in, talk to the owner, Johann Ebarle, and tell him what you wanted in a suit. A slim cut, wider legs, wool, silk—that sort of thing. 

Now, there’s a different kind of garment that the tailors are constantly producing: a loose coverall made of tafetta with a waterproof back lining. There’s not much choice in how it looks, and the color is whatever they can get their hands on. But it’s a suit that’s saving lives, and Johann has been giving it away to the frontliners who are helping fight the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The shop has temporarily closed since the government mandated quarantine,” Johann says. “Production was reduced to a minimum. Our staff and half of the tailors went to their respective homes while the remaining ones or those who are staying in at the shop were left with very little workload.”

“When I learned that there is a shortage of PPEs and that medical practitioners are risking their lives without proper gear and protection, I decided to call on my team to produce protective wear for our friends in the medical field.”

JE&Co’s protective coveralls are made with government-approved materials and specifications.

It took little effort for his staff to adapt to the work. The protective coverall was just another pattern, just another way to use their skills. They were used to making more complex clothes on the regular. Only, mass production was another thing entirely. .

Since the project began in March, they’ve had to work non-stop to produce the government-approved coveralls and face shields. The first ones had gone to Manila Doctors Hospital, and the more recent ones to the Philippine Heart Center in Quezon City, the University of Santo Tomas Hospital in Manila, and to the Philippine Academy of Family Physicians in Pampanga. In some cases, when there’s no one else available, Johann would have to deliver them himself: 35, 50, dozens of pieces at a time. 

But the demand has only increased, and Johann continues to receive multiple requests from other medical institutions, to see if he could make more. 

“After posting about our project on social media, medical practitioners from different hospitals started contacting us to ask for assistance. I was surprised by the number of requests that my post generated. Fortunately, there were also people who contacted us offering financial support as well as donations in kind.” 

Johann’s tailors have put their skills to work, making protective equipment during the quarantine.

Johann plans to continue working on medical equipment, though much like every other industry, the tailoring business is facing an uncertain future. There’s still no telling when the pandemic will end, and this was supposed to be an especially busy time for his boutique.

“This season usually has a high demand due to the many events that are being held such as proms, graduation balls, weddings. However, because of the coronavirus outbreak, most of these events have already either been postponed or cancelled.”

Still, he believes this is the least he can do, his way of contributing to the fight against the current crisis.

“I would like to commend and profusely thank our modern day heroes for risking their safety and their own lives to treat coronavirus patients,” he says. “For the ones who have the means, please do extend your generosity in any way you can while being careful not to expose yourselves in order to not add to the burden of the society.”

Meanwhile, you can check out how JE&Co’s project is going, as well as their regular work, on their Facebook page.