Style & Fashion

In Focus: How Mich Dulce's PPE Designs Are Saving Lives Across The World

In Focus: How Mich Dulce's PPE Designs Are Saving Lives Across The World

Like everyone else stuck at home, Mich Dulce would find herself browsing over social media—only to fortuitously come across her friend Cynthia Diaz' Facebook post. The post talked about rolls of fabric ready for use as Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), but with nowhere to donate to and without the skills to turn into something useful for frontliners working amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Luck led the former PBB Celebrity Housemate to that call, but it was initiative that spurred the fashion designer to provide furthermore.

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Mich quickly got the ball rolling—messaging a friend about designing PPEs herself and then another one to Vice President Leni Robredo with whom the artist had previously worked on several projects. She would eventually obtain the fabric from her Manila studio, followed with a set of PPEs from the Vice President's office. In a Facebook status, Mich said these samples were lent to them "so we can make a sample of it, and begin production." She thought she got it in the next steps—that it was just a matter of reverse-engineering the design. But she had another and bigger problem: Meeting the high demand. Having only a single studio and a handful of sewers and designers working with what they had from home, Mich deliberately started a Facebook group to collaborate with other designers and clothing industry workers in producing more.

Started on March 21, the Manila Protective Gear Sewing Club quickly drew many members from all over the Philippines—all eager to lend a hand to the efforts against COVID-19. It has swelled soon enough to 2,000 members—from amateurs working on small details from home to full-fledged design workshops and studios assembling everything together from head to toe. Beyond that, it is, as Mich described herself, "a group fueled by... generosity... who (volunteer) their time and pay their own teams to help in the fight against (COVID-19). (It) is run by people who donate own their time and resources. (Selflessness) at its finest."

Mich finally saw her work just getting started. But to perfect the suit, she had to get a doctor's approval on the design. With the help of the Office of the Vice President again "for facilitating the approval," Mich, plus Cynthia and clothing technology instructor Kendi Maristela, all spoke over Zoom with Laguna-based infectious disease specialist Dr. Jesus Julio Ancheta, and ultimately managed to proceed.

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The happiest zoom call of my life. First suit APPROVED FOR DOCTOR'S USE with direct & critical exposure to patients by Infectious Disease Specialist and Chief Medical Officer of The Medical City Sta Rosa Laguna Dr. Jesus Julio Ancheta!!!!!!! The first suit was made by Joey Socco and her team with Tafetta SBL chosen and donated by family and friends of Dr. Reina Diane Tajonera and Dothy Atienza using our patterns and techpack. . Approved material used is Tafetta SBL (Tafetta with Silver Back Lining) and this can be washed and reused and disinfected again and again. YAY!!!! So GO hive mind lets find this fabric!!!!! Silver side goes inside the suit. . Thank you Office Of The Vice President @lenirobredo for facilitating the approval. We ask everyone to make this suit in Large first, and we will be uploading another approved pattern for Women frontliners in Small and Medium (2 piece so that easy to use the toilet, a feminist pattern!) , plus the pattern graded to medium as soon as possible. . Super naiyak kami !!!!!!!!!!! For everyone who is making using other fabrics, don't worry. They can still be allocated to other health workers / staff appropriately! Let's just all KEEP MAKING what we can!!!!! Again Link to patterns and tech pack where we will also upload the new patterns in bio. . Go team!!! #ManilaProtectiveGearSewingClub @chynchong @kendimaristela @ajdimarucot We have many people ready to sew so please if you can donate Tafetta SBL to us please contact Cynthia Diaz at 09178662496.

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With a bit more tweaking around and with consultations from healthcare workers, Mich with Kendi finalized the designs for PPEs in two styles: The standard one-piece that wearers stepped into and zipped up in the front, and a two-piece designed for the convenience of women healthcare workers in mind. Thinking a design as important as this has no place being kept in secret, Mich has made it accessible for replication by uploading it online.

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In the spirit of transparency and accountability we are releasing a cost sheet for what reusable DIY non medical grade PPEs using our techpack should cost prepared by @kendimaristela that includes both labor and materials for a small factory set up of 5-10 makers or more. As I mentioned before our group has not started with the pledge phase of our production, because our team is still working for FREE with donated fabric and volunteer sewers and factories so our suits cost ZERO but many have been asking what it should cost so here you go, for the 1 piece jumpsuit ALL IN -- MAXIMUM COST is PhP 444.90. Tomorrow we will upload for 2 piece. . These costs have already been PADDED to allow for fluctuation in price of materials / error in cutting / other costs (for example, market value of SBL should be 45 PhP but apparently people are selling for 90!!) (report anyone who is overcharging beyond this to DTI for price freezing), and some factories have said 3 yards is enough for a jumpsuit). Upon review of these costs by #ManilaProtectiveGearSewingClub partner makers and factories, they have said that this price is more than fair, and some have even said they can make suits for 350-430 per piece all in. To quote one of our volunteers Ginger Aganon about this costing we are releasing: "Overall bottomline cost is fair and can be managed by most makers. Nobody will be lugi and the owners will make a little for the time they give to manage the production." To all those who have lower prices than what is indicated here, I salute you and thank you for your honest service. . SO. Be informed that ANYTHING BEYOND THIS PRICE IS A PROFIT. Note that there is nothing wrong with profit, but you as the pledger / purchaser should be able to make an informed decision on how you spend your money, especially at a time of global crisis like this. . More info on my FB Post.

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In no time at all, Mich has already received word about her designs being used all over the world. In a tweet, she mentioned that she "got messages of it being used in Australia, Egypt, Mexico, Morocco, Botswana, Thailand and more." She also mentioned of the tech pack being translated into Bahasa Indonesia.

Recently, through the Manila Protective Gear Sewing Club, Mich has also called for donations to purchase more materials needed in the production of PPEs. She surely is one of the better ones who do know how to use their talent and influence for the greater good.

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Banner image by Gustavo Fring via Pexels




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