Meghan Markle Launches Smart Set Collection to help Unemployed Women

Wonder woman is at work again with a fashion line launched to aid unemployed women in the U.K.

Seeing the Duchess of Sussex in a £120 pair of black trousers and an £85 white shirt with rolled-up sleeves enter John Lewis on Oxford Street in London, it was obvious she’s set to work… and yes she was to launch the Smart Set, a collection of interview-appropriate clothing for unemployed women trying to enter the workplace.

The charity clothing line called Smart Set was targeted to benefit Smart Works. Smart Works is an NGO founded to help unemployed women in the U.K.

The duchess is a patron of Smart Works, a charity that provides interview coaching and appropriate outfits for women in need. The Smart Set collection, comprising a trouser suit, white shirt, dress and a leather bag, goes beyond awareness raising with an ambitious plan to improve the quantity and quality of clothing stock at the charity. For each piece sold on the shop floor one will be donated to Smart Works.

Each piece of the Smart Set collection include a one-button blazer ($246) and wool blend trousers ($148) from Jigsaw; a black grained leather tote bag from John Lewis & Partners ($135); a crepe shift dress from Marks & Spencer in black, blue and pink ($24); and a sustainable white blouse from Markle’s friend and designer Misha Nonoo ($125). As of Thursday morning, some sizes were already sold out, which is expected given Markle’s longstanding impact on the fashion industry, dubbed “the Meghan Markle Effect,” where pieces she wears often sell out in record speed.

“Since moving to the U.K., 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,” Markle said in a statement. “I am excited to celebrate the launch of another initiative of women supporting women, and communities working together for the greater good. When you buy any item in the Smart Set Capsule Collection for Smart Works, the same item will be given to a Smart Works client, and with it, the confidence and support she needs to enter the workforce and take an important step in building a career.” 

The royal thanked the brands for “placing purpose over profit and community over competition. In convening several companies rather than one, we’ve demonstrated how we can work collectively to empower each other — another layer to this communal success story, that I am so proud to be a part of.”

Wondering what inspired the Smart Set? Meghan commented that Smart Works has till date depended on donations from individuals and brands. “On one of my visits there was a rack of 40 or 50 lilac jackets. It was a nice jacket, but I thought to myself, these women need and deserve to feel their best not just to wear whatever hasn’t sold at the end of the season,” the duchess said at the launch.

So, she said, she approached her friend and designer Misha Nonoo, the retailers John Lewis and Marks & Spencer (chosen “because I have worn a lot of their clothes since I moved to the UK”), and also the Jigsaw chain because she was “really touched” by the message “in celebration of immigrant culture in this country” of the brand’s award-winning Love Immigration campaign. That Smart Set would be sold through several rival retailers was, said Meghan, “another layer to this communal success story”.

“Empowering women has always been my goal as a designer and I was thrilled our brand could support so many women’s professional pursuits in this special partnership,” Nonoo added in a statement.