Britain's Meghan, Duchess of Sussex launches the Smart Works capsule collection at John Lewis in Oxford Street, London, Thursday Sept. 12, 2019. (Mark Large/Pool via AP)
The Duchess of Sussex has stepped out wearing her new charity clothing collection, as she urged women to "champion each other so we aim to succeed".
Meghan launched the range, aimed at helping Smart Works, which trains and dresses unemployed women for interviews, at a flagship London department store - and announced a leather tote bag accessory had already sold out.
The duchess said the community project reflected the work she and her husband Prince Harry would be doing in the future, when their Sussex Royal foundation is launched in 2020.
Meghan was attending her first official engagement since the birth of her son Archie in May and at the end said: "I've got to get back to the baby - it's feeding time."
Speaking at John Lewis's Oxford Street store in London, one of the project's retail partners, Meghan laughed as she told guests she was made aware as she arrived that the tote bag had sold out, adding: "So that's great."
The duchess said the project would see an item from the range donated to the charity Smart Works for each one bought by a shopper.
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Introducing the new Smart Works collection, #TheSmartSet Over the last year, The Duchess of Sussex and @SmartWorksCharity have come together to launch a very special initiative. Following numerous visits to the charity, The Duchess, who is patron of Smart Works, noticed an underlying issue... while the donations were plentiful, the right sizes and classic wardrobe staples were not always available. Since then - having partnered with leading British fashion designers @InsideJigsaw, @JohnLewisandPartners, @MarksandSpencer and @MishaNonoo - The Duchess has championed the launch of a new Smart Works capsule collection that will help properly equip these women for their next chapter. • “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 Duchess of Sussex Created in September 2013 with the goal to help unemployed women regain the confidence that may have been blurred during more difficult times, Smart Works provides invaluable support in these women’s return to employment and towards transforming their lives. Not only do they supply complete outfits for job interviews, Smart Works provides access to one-to-one interview training and the opportunity to join Smart Works Network, meeting every month to further their professional and personal development. #TheSmartSet collection – that features a shirt, trousers, blazer, dress and bag – will be on sale for two weeks starting today. Please support the women of Smart Works by purchasing one of the pieces and being part of another woman’s success story. Video ©️ SussexRoyal / Photo ©️ @JennyZarins
She went on to speak about the ethos behind the initiative: "As women, it is 100 per cent our responsibility, I think, to support and up-lift each other.
"To champion each other so we aim to succeed, to not set each other up for failure, but instead to really be there rallying round each other and say 'I want to help you'.
"And you may not ever meet that person, but you know when you put on that blazer or that shirt, or you carry that tote or put on those trousers and that dress, that some other woman on the other side of this country is wearing that piece because you made that purchase."
The collection includes workwear essentials from an elegant blazer and well-cut trousers by Jigsaw, to a tote bag which fits all the essentials needed for an interview from John Lewis & Partners.
A classic dress, flattering to all sizes, from Marks & Spencer, and a crisp white shirt from the womenswear designer and friend of the duchess, Misha Nonoo, complete the range.
Meghan wore the blouse and a pair of the trousers by Jigsaw to the launch. She finished off her look with a pair of butterfly earrings that belonged to Harry's mother, Diana, Princess of Wales.
She said when she began thinking about helping Smart Works create its collection, the first person she thought about was her friend Nonoo, a designer known for her own capsule wardrobe offerings.
Meghan also wanted to pick "traditional and quintessential British brands" that would resonate with Smart Works' clients and so chose John Lewis and M&S, and was drawn to Jigsaw because of an advertising campaign it launched that celebrated Britain's diversity.
Half of Smart Works' clients are from an ethnic minority, long-term unemployed and have been unsuccessful with a large number of job applications, but 64 per cent of those who receive training and an interview outfit from the charity get a job.
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Last month, The Duchess of Sussex surprised Smart Works clients during the capsule collection shoot in west London...Today, The Duchess, alongside @SmartWorksCharity - in partnership with @InsideJigsaw, @JohnLewisandPartners, @MarksandSpencer and @MishaNonoo - are incredibly proud to reveal to everyone, #TheSmartSet - a five piece capsule collection that will equip the Smart Works clients with the classic wardrobe pieces to help them feel confident as they mobilise back into the work space. • “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. It was just last September that we launched the ‘Together’ cookbook with the women of the Hubb Kitchen in Grenfell. Today, a year later, I am excited to celebrate the launch of another initiative of women supporting women, and communities working together for the greater good. Thank you to the four brands who came together in supporting Smart Works on this special project - 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” - The Duchess of Sussex The collection – which features a shirt, trousers, blazer, dress and tote bag – will be on sale for two weeks starting today, with the objective of selling enough units to give Smart Works the essentials they need to help dress clients for the coming year! For every item bought during the sale of the collection, one will be donated to Smart Works, this 1:1 model allows customers to directly support the Smart Works women by playing a part in their success story - how they look and more importantly, how they feel. Photo © @JennyZarins
© PAA 2019