Last week, John Lewis re­leased new sta­tis­tics say­ing there’s been a 10% in­crease in py­jama sales this year. That’s a trend ac­tor Robin Wright and her co-col­lab­o­ra­tor Karen Fowler have tapped into with their al­tru­is­tic sleep­wear range

Grazia (UK) - - 10 Hot_ Stories -

MADAM PRES­I­DENT, Claire Un­der­wood, has just flown in from Los An­ge­les and is sit­ting on a plumped cream sofa in her suite in Lon­don’s Corinthia ho­tel. She is dressed head-to-toe in sleek black – a nod to #Me­too? – her trade­mark short blonde hair is smoothed be­hind her ears, her fringe swooshed over watch­ful ice-blue eyes. She is ev­ery inch pre­cise and pow­er­ful – and alarm­ingly in­tim­i­dat­ing.

Has she slept well, some­one asks? ‘ Three hours! Woohoo, par­tay!’ she ex­claims, punch­ing the air in a man­ner that is not at all pres­i­den­tial. And – bam! – just like that, the ac­tress Robin Wright, who has for the last five years em­bod­ied the char­ac­ter of Claire Un­der­wood in the cult Net­flix se­ries House Of Cards, ap­pears.

She is here in Lon­don with her friend

and co-col­lab­o­ra­tor Karen Fowler to pro­mote their brand, Pour Les Femmes, a sleep­wear line they set up two years ago. On the rail be­side us hang feather-light py­ja­mas, robes and slips in the finest cot­ton and linens – the kind Madam Pres­i­dent, who ce­mented the trend for power ex­ec­u­tive shift dresses and lethal court shoes, would never wear. (‘No! She’s cash­mere and silk all the way.’)

The pair have tapped into a grow­ing fash­ion cat­e­gory – the nightwear and loungewear mar­ket is now worth £1,486 mil­lion, ac­cord­ing to mar­ket re­search com­pany Min­tel. It’s an indicator of our times, as the trend for stay­ing in-in and the rise of the 8pm bed­time brigade gath­ers speed. All ac­knowl­edged by John Lewis, which last week re­leased data on the ‘cosy sta­tus’ of women’s choices in the UK, not­ing a 10% in­crease in py­jama buys in the last year. Mean­while, night­dresses are most pop­u­lar in Liver­pool, with a 51% up­lift in sales, Glas­gow is the most lux­ury re­gion with the big­gest in­crease in silk py­ja­mas, and in Ex­eter there’s been a 108% in­crease in sales of cash­mere bed socks.

So it’s no won­der Pour Les Femmes is res­onat­ing in the UK. ‘ We have no­ticed a spike in sales for ver­sa­tile py­ja­mas cre­ated with com­fort in mind. Pour Les Femmes is key for this trend, in­spired by vin­tage de­signs – the per­fect option for day and evening,’ says Matches buyer Chelsea Power, who set up the Py­jama Pro­ject this Christ­mas, work­ing with 12 de­sign­ers, in­clud­ing Richard Quinn and House of Hack­ney, to cre­ate ex­clu­sive PJS that dou­ble as night and evening­wear.

But Pour Les Femmes (mean­ing ‘For Women’) also taps into the sweep­ing global trend for fash­ion with com­pas­sion. The PLF pro­ject has a se­ri­ous aim: to aid and trans­form the lives of women in the Congo. ‘It’s the worst place in the world to be a woman. The rape cap­i­tal of the world, where ev­ery 48 sec­onds a woman is raped,’ says Wright.

Eleven years ago, Wright was in­tro­duced to the is­sue by the Amer­i­can hu­man rights ac­tivist (and for­mer spe­cial ad­vi­sor to Bill Clin­ton) John Pren­der­gast, and has now been to the Congo many times to meet the women in cri­sis cen­tres and hear their stories. ‘ Their lives, you can’t even imag­ine. One time I met a 16-year-old and an 82-year-old woman, both raped by 14 or 15-year-old boys with ma­chine guns. What struck me was their stories were no dif­fer­ent, their pain was no dif­fer­ent, their shame was no dif­fer­ent. All I could say was, “What can I do for you – what do you need?” They both sim­ply said the same thing: “Can you be our voice? Be­cause we don’t have one here”.’

When their la­bel launched, it sold $200,000 worth of py­ja­mas in a month. Work­ing with two lo­cal char­i­ties, Ac­tion Kivu and Syn­ergie des Femmes, they helped set up com­mu­nity cen­tres that pro­vide women with work, fair wages and pur­pose – learn­ing to sew; their beauty bags are made there. Now they are about to add menswear, kidswear and bed linen to the line.

So, why the global con­sumer shift to­wards fash­ion with a con­science? ‘I think it’s shift­ing be­cause knowl­edge is power,’ says Karen. ‘An ed­u­cated con­sumer who re­ally cares about the planet and cares about fair wages – it’s just some­thing you can’t ig­nore any more – or you don’t want to ig­nore any more. You’re wear­ing this item on your body and you want to feel good about where it came from.’ It’s about cre­at­ing some­thing that peo­ple can par­tic­i­pate in, adds Robin: ‘Peo­ple can shut down, they don’t want to see it or know about it of­ten be­cause the sit­u­a­tion is so big and so bru­tal, which can leave peo­ple feel­ing help­less. But by gen­tly of­fer­ing a great prod­uct, some­thing that you gen­uinely want and love, and that has a story be­hind it, you re­alise you are help­ing.’ Pour Les Femmes, priced from £110 to £640, is avail­able at match­es­fash­ion.com, net-a-porter.com and in Sel­fridges

Star print, £160, Pour Les Femmes (match­es­fash­ion.com) An­i­mal print top, £235, Marc Cain (marc-cain.com) Flo­ral, £398, Richard Quinn (match­es­fash­ion.com) Pat­terned, £395, House of Hack­ney (match­es­fash­ion.com) Blue, £180, Pour Les Femmes (match­es­fash­ion.com) Striped, £30, M&S Col­lec­tion (mark­sand­spencer.com) Pink, £255, Pour Les Femmes (match­es­fash­ion.com) Con­trast, £169, The White Com­pany (the­white­com­pany.com)

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