London Fashion Week was launched on Friday, and it's already about way more than just who’s wearing what. Environmental protesters are out in force against the devastating impacts of fast fashion; while Meghan Markle has been showing how clothes can be more than just skin deep.
The Duchess of Sussex is back from maternity leave to unveil a brand new clothing collection designed in partnership with the charity Smart Works — of which Meghan is a patron — to support women who have been unemployed as they navigate their way into the work space.
The 5-piece collection is called The Smart Set, and it's going to be sold in UK retailers Jigsaw, John Lewis, Marks & Spencer, and Misha Nonoo for the next two weeks.
For every item sold, another will be donated to Smart Works, which works to provide women with free job interview training and outfits they can wear to interviews.
The aim is to sell enough pieces from the collection to provide Smart Works with the essentials for their clients for the whole of the next year. According to Smart Works, one in every two women that it supports gets the job.
And at the unveiling of the collection — in partnership with the Smart Works charity — Meghan highlighted how clothes are all about empowerment, confidence, and community.
“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,” Meghan said, unveiling the collection.
“It was just last September that we launched the Together cookbook, with the women of the Hubb Kitchen in Grenfell,” she continued. “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.”
She added in her speech at the launch: “So though this is a year later, and obviously this is fashion not food, at its core these are very similar projects because they’re about women who are empowering each other.”
The Duchess also used her speech to make a revealing distinction behind her perspective on the difference between charity and community.
“When we go into our closet as a woman, we say ‘I’m going to make a donation’, you don’t go through your closet and just toss in a box whatever you don’t care about anymore,” she said. “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’”, she continued. “But if I’m able to share that blazer and be part of another women’s success story, then that’s community."
The collection consists of a trouser suit, a white shirt, a dress in two colours, and a tote bag.
Meghan also highlighted in her speech how important it is to her to be able to continue her activism — specifically focusing on women’s empowerment — in the UK.
“This is the kind of work that I’ve been doing for a really long time and to be able to do it here in my new home of the UK means quite a bit to me,” she said. “It’s also the same range of work that my husband and I will continue doing, really strong community-based projects, and this is something that we'll be excited to be able to share more about next year when we launch our foundation Sussex Royal in 2020.”
The Duchess also used her guest editing role with Vogue last month to highlight the great work being done by Smart Works.
“There is often a misunderstanding about Smart Works being a makeover, a fashion show of ‘before and after,’” she wrote in the magazine.
“But… this is not a fairytale. In fact, if it’s a cultural reference you’re after, forget Cinderella,” she added. “This is the story of Wonder Woman, ready to take on the world in her metaphorical and literal cape.”