Just when we thought new parents were sleep-deprived enough (oh, wait—most new parents don’t have a small army of English nannies), Meghan, Duchess of Sussex is already back at work. Her son, Archie Harrison Mountbatten Windsor, is barely three months old yet (and Prince Harry recently revealed that the couple plans to max out at two children) but the duchess, who turns 38 on Sunday, is making clear that she’s a working mom—and has working women’s interests in mind. (And yes, we realize three months is the standard length of maternity leave in the U.S.; in the U.K., it’s 26 weeks or more.)
Since well before Meghan married into the British monarchy, every fashion site (and every major media outlet, for that matter) made us well aware of the “Markle Sparkle”—the immediate boost (read: revenue and prestige) any brand the duchess chooses to wear reaps by association. On the very high-end heels of her collaboration on British Vogue’s September issue, Meghan has announced that she’ll soon be harnessing the “Markle Sparkle” for her own collection—and a very good cause.
As explained in the issue, for her next creative venture, the duchess will be collaborating on a capsule collection of workwear separates to benefit one of the four charities in her royal patronage, Smart Works.
The charity functions much like Dress for Success does stateside, providing women hoping to reenter the workforce the clothing they need to both look and feel professional. In Meghan’s own words:
The reason I was drawn to Smart Works is that it reframes the idea of charity as community, which, for me, is incredibly important: it’s a network of women supporting and empowering other women in their professional pursuits...Clothes are donated—but it’s not just about a woman going through her closet and giving something away because she no longer needs it. It’s about looking at that special item you’re holding on to—the memory of that suit or dress that helped you achieve your dream job—and wanting to pay it forward. Not a hand-me-down, but rather a hand being held.
Smart Works provides their clients with a consultation with a stylist and an interview outfit, followed by a second outfit once they’re hired and awaiting their first paycheck. It’s a potentially life-changing bridge for the women the organization serves, but as the duchess notes, the selection of donations “can be a potpourri of mismatched sizes and colors, not always the right stylistic choices or range of sizes.”
To ensure that both Smart Works’ clientele and average working women have the classic, work-appropriate wardrobe options they need, Meghan recruited the design talents and resources of British department stores John Lewis & Partners and Marks & Spencer, women’s label Jigsaw, and fashion designer and close friend Misha Nonoo (who reportedly introduced Meghan to Prince Harry).
The resulting capsule collection, due to launch this fall (and you know we’ll be keeping an eye out), will reportedly use the “one-for-one” model, meaning that for each item of clothing purchased, another will be donated to Smart Works. “Not only does this allow us to be a part of each other’s story, it reminds us we are in it together,” Meghan wrote.