When it comes to fashion the Duchess of Sussez most certainly has the midas touch, with anythingshe wears in public usually selling out within hours.
Now Meghan Markle has harnessed the public’s admiration for her style, putting it to use as a force for good. She’s designed a line of clothing aimed at empowering unemployed women to find work.
The Duchess of Sussex on Thursday launched the Smart Set Capsule Collection, in collaboration with Smart Works, a UK-based charity of which she is patron.
Bringing together leading British brands and fashion designers Jigsaw, John Lewis & Partners, Marks & Spencer and Misha Nanoo, the collection features worked wear essentials and classic pieces wich women need for interviews and the workplace.
Moments before arriving at the launch, the former Suits star discover that one of the items – a tote bag being marketed by John Lewis & Partners – had already sold out online.
The likelihood is that the other featured items – including a trouser suit from Jigsaw, a dress from Marks & Spencer and a white shirt from designer Misha Nanoo – will be just a spopular.
The range is likely to provide a welcome boost for the ailing British high street, in particular Marks & Spencer which has seen falling sales for years – and which the duchess claims to regularly wear.
For every item bought from the range, which will be on sale for “at least two weeks”, according to the palace, one will be donated to Smart Workd.
The Duchess of Sussex was appointed Patron of Smart Works in January this year. During several quit visits to her appointment, she observed that while donations to Smart Works were plentiful, the right choices of seizes were not always available.
Addressing the small gathering at John Lewis on London’s Oxford Street, Meghan said: “When I first moved to the UK it was incredibly important to me personally to be able to connect with people on the ground doing really important work and one of the place that I went to very early on was SmartWorks.
After meeting with them, the duchess said she asked herself: ‘What can I do in some small way…was how can I help amplify this?
The idea for the capsule collection came after a visit to the charity’s London headquarters, she said, explaining: “We had a lot of donations but not necessarily thing that women need to have. I said, “ok, let’s try to work with what we have and make the best of it”.
“And then the next time I went there was a rack of about 40 or 50 iliac blazers. Now don’t get me wrong, it’s a great blazer and I’m sure for someone it’s exactly what she wants to be wearing but for most women, when you go in there and you want to have a job, interviewing, you want to feel confident, you want to be wearing the pieces…that make you feel that way and not the leftovers that didn’t sell from the end of the season.
‘I kept thinking about it as I went home and it didn’t track for me”.
Meghan said she concluded that she had to change things, and transform the concept from charity to community.
She explained: “You don’t just go through your closet and toss in a box anything you don’t care about anymore. That’s charity as we know it today.
“Community is going through your closet and saying this is the blazer that I wore when I nailed my first job interview and got my dream job and I don’t need that anymore because I’m where I want to be.
‘But if I’m able to share that blazer and be part of another women’s success story then that’s community”.
The duchess said that is creating the collection, her friend Nonoo was her first port of call because of her experience in designing capsule collection and empowering women.
She the set out to select “traditional and quintessential British brands” in her “new home” which led her to choose M&S and John Lewis which – surprisingly – she admitted to “wearing quite a bit in the last year or two”.
Her inspiration for working with Jigsaw, she said, came from a prior campaign that the chain had to use focusing on the diversity of the UK.
After announcing that the bag had already sold out online, the duchess called upon her fashion partners to extend the range as much as possible to maximize the charity’s gain.
Wrapping up her short but confident speech, Meghan said that the project was “in the same vein of work that my husband and I will continue doing” and promised to share about what lies ahead when their foundation, Sussez Royal, launches next year.
Nonoo, who was rumored to have introduced the royal couple, told CNN Style that the question of collaborating on the project was a ‘no brainer’.
She said: “When the Duchess of Sussex approached me about being part of it when she became royal patron of Smart Works she obviously knew that what I do is very much about empowering women through their wardrobe and capsule collection is at the very heart of what I so, so it was no brainer for me to say yes.
‘The values were completely aligned with my own philosophy and values. She asked me to do the white shirt specifically because that’s the signature of our collection.”