Smart Works Launch Event
THE SMART SET LAUNCHES AT JOHN LEWIS & PARTNERS
HRH THE DUCHESS OF SUSSEX INTRODUCED HER NEW CHARITY INITIATIVE AT JOHN LEWIS & PARTNERS’ OXFORD STREET STORE
On an unexpectedly hot afternoon this September, HRH The Duchess of Sussex graced the rooftop of our John Lewis & Partners Oxford Street store to introduce The Smart Set, a capsule collection of workwear staples with the charity Smart Works.
Since then, our Smart Set tote has seen staggering demand and sold out twice, but is now available again to buy in selected stores for a last few fortunate shoppers. For every bag sold, one is donated to the charity, helping to give unemployed women the confidence to get back into work. Here we give you the insider take, starting with a speech from The Duchess herself.
On arriving at the launch, The Duchess took to the stage to speak passionately about becoming patron of the charity and her idea to launch the capsule collection. She was clearly excited about the potential it had for female empowerment. ‘As women it is 100% our responsibility – I think – to support and uplift each other, to champion each other as we aim to succeed,’ she said.
‘And you may not ever meet that person but you’ll know when you put on that blazer or put on that shirt or you carry that tote or put on those trousers or that dress, that some other woman on the other side of this country is wearing that piece because you made that purchase.’
‘Since moving to the UK, it has been deeply important to me to meet with communities and organisations on the ground doing meaningful work, and to try to do whatever I can to help them amplify their impact,’ she went on to say of her decision to work with Smart Works.
“As women it is 100% our responsibility to support and uplift each other”HRH The Duchess of Sussex,-Patron of Smart Works
After speaking, The Duchess took her seat in the front row to listen to a panel comprised of Kate Stephens, the CEO of Smart Works; patron Jane Shepherdson, and Smart Works clients Kate Johnson and Zara Najimi.
It was evident how much Smart Works had changed their lives. ‘The appointment restored my confidence and reminded me that I can do it,’ said Kate Johnson. ‘At Smart Works, you’ll experience people who are passionate in helping you, not only to look your best but to be the best you.’
‘It’s an experience you won’t forget,’ Zara agreed. ‘My outfit made me feel like a boss – powerful and strong. It just made me feel amazing, reminding me of how far I have come and the future I have in front of me.’
“My outfit made me feel like a boss – powerful and strong”Zara Najimi,-Smart Works Client
Following the panel, The Duchess was given a tour of the John Lewis & Partners rooftop, meeting and thanking everyone involved in making the capsule collection happen. Guests were clearly moved by the work that had been done. ‘Smart Works is such a simple idea and a fantastic charity,’ said actor and Patron of Smart Works, Jennifer Saunders. ‘I’m a huge fan of anything that can build women’s confidence – and with new centres opening, it’s clear they’re doing a lot of good.’
‘It’s a brilliant initiative,’ agreed magazine editor Jo Elvin. ‘I love the idea of anything that helps rehabilitate people who have experienced difficulties and forge their own way in the world, especially through clothes,’ she said. ‘I pretty much use fashion to build confidence every day. It’s not about looking the trendiest, but it gives you that quiet confidence to not worry about your appearance and just sell yourself.’
Since the event, enough product has been sold to provide Smart Works with a year’s worth of clothing. The Duke and Duchess’s official Instagram announced the good news with a post: ‘In just eight days, your active support has helped equip the women of Smart Works with enough units from this capsule collection to help for a full year!’