HRH The Duchess of Sussex and Smart Works have collaborated with leading British fashion brands & designers John Lewis & Partners, Marks & Spencer, Jigsaw and Misha Nonoo to create a perfect working wardrobe for Smart Works clients.
The capsule collection will be called The Smart Set and consists of the work wear essentials often needed to attend interviews and enter into the workplace: a perfect white shirt, an elegant blazer, well cut trousers, a dress that flatters everyone and the perfect tote.
For every item bought during the sale of the collection, which will last for at least two weeks, one will be donated to Smart Works. This direct 1:1 model means that for every item bought by a customer, another will be given to help a woman get back into the work place. Being involved in and supporting this initiative is to take an active decision to be part of another woman’s success story.
The Smart Set will be available in stores, online and in Smart Works Dressing Rooms across the UK from Thursday 12th September. To ensure the capsule collection is as accessible and inclusive as possible, the pieces will be available at a range of different price points and in a range of different sizes and colours.
Smart Works was created in September 2013 and exists to help long term unemployed and vulnerable women regain the confidence they need to succeed at job interviews, return to employment and transform their lives. The Duchess became Patron of Smart Works in January this year and is very supportive of the impactful work being done to help women into the workforce.
The Smart Set capsule collection has been informed and inspired by The Duchess’s first-hand insights from her many visits to Smart Works. The Duchess noticed that whilst donations to the charity were plentiful, they weren’t always the right choices or sizes. To help with this, The Duchess and Smart Works collaborated with leading British fashion brands to develop a new and collaborative approach to charitable giving. The Smart Set brings together a powerful community of designers, retailers and customers who are united in a desire to empower women.
Her Royal Highness, The Duchess of Sussex said: “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. Now, one year later, 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. 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 collection will be available straight away for Smart Works clients in their various centres around the UK. A recent Smart Works client, Kate, spoke about what her visit to Smart Works meant to her:
“The appointment restored my confidence and reminded me that I can do it. 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 is an experience you won’t forget”.
Whilst wearing the collection, Kate said:
“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.”
Juliet Hughes-Hallett, Chair and Founder of Smart Works, comments: “Smart Works changes women’slives. Every woman we see is dressed and coached by our volunteers so that she feels exceptional. The Smart Set capsule collection will make a significant difference in our ability to dress our clients. The pieces will give each woman the opportunity to regain her confidence, look fabulous and get the job.”
Kate Stephens, CEO of Smart Works, comments: “The capsule collection will give us the staples we need for our clients in centres across the country for the next six months. We are incredibly grateful to the brands involved for making this possible. Every woman who walks through our door will know that another woman cares about her andhas invested in her future.”
The Duchess worked with Smart Works and each of the brands individually on these key work wear pieces, tocarefully curate The Smart Set Capsule Collection.
John Lewis & Partners designed a functional leather tote bag. Speaking about the collaboration, Christine Kasoulis, Director of Fashion Buying,said: “The Smart Set Collection is a natural next step in the work we’ve done with Smart Works since 2015, from donating seasonal wardrobes of new stock, to running volunteering programs and supporting with interview coaching. Our Smart Set Tote has been designed specifically with Smart Works clients in mind -a stylish yet functional leather bag which holds a CV and other essentials. We’re very excited to be part of this project and hope that this unique capsule collection will help support Smart Works clients getting back into work.”
The Smart Set tailored suit is supplied by Jigsaw, a neatly fitted jacket and tapered trousers, and are two of the brand’s most popular pieces. “Our Paris Tailoring has been a mainstay of the Jigsaw collection for many years now. It’s pieces like these that make a woman feel great and ready to face the day and we felt these were the perfect fit for the Smart Set collaboration,” said Louise Long, Head of Buying, Jigsaw Clothing.
Louise added: “The collection is one of the industry’s first cross-retail brand collaborations of its kind, and we are extremely proud to be part of it.”Complementing the tote, and the suit, is designer Misha Nonoo’s classic white shirt and Marks & Spencer’s perfect work wear dress in a classic tunic shape.
Jill Stanton, Marks & Spencer Director Womenswear & Kidswear, comments: “Marks & Spencer is delighted to be a part of this retail collaboration with Smart Works; that places carefully curated workwear pieces at the heart of this unique initiative. The Smart Set Dress from M&S, available in classic black or a vibrant blue, is an effortless silhouette that will slot easily into any working wardrobe; offering a simple style solution to any woman on the go.”
Final word goes to Misha Nonoo commenting on why she became involved. “Creating this capsule collection alongside The Duchess of Sussex, Smart Works, John Lewis & Partners and Jigsaw, has been an incredible experience. Empowering women has always been my goal as a designer and I was thrilled our brand could support so many women’sprofessional pursuits in this special partnership.”