Upon her return from maternity leave, Duchess of Sussex Meghan Markle released Smart Set, a collection of interview-appropriate clothing for unemployed women trying to enter the workplace.
This is more important than ever. After England’s economic downturn in 2008, the number of women working full-time in the country has been steadily dropping, and an estimated 5.33 million women aged 16-64 are economically inactive.
The new fashion line is an extension of Markle’s work with Smart Works, a charity that provides interview training and appropriate dress for women attempting to navigate the transition from unemployment to the job-hunt hustle. For every Smart Set piece bought on the shop floor–including trouser suits, white shirts, dresses, and leather bags–a piece will be donated to Smart Works.
Markle’s involvement with the line could have a tremendous impact on the availability and accessibility of workwear for impoverished women. Lyst, a fashion search engine, reports that the week after Markle makes a public appearance, her outfit has a 216 percent increase in online searches. This means that lots of Londoners and fashion connoisseurs across the globe will buy from the collection, and consequently, the unemployed women who depend on Smart Works for their business attire will have more options than ever before.
Before Smart Set, the charity associated with the collection relied on donations from individuals. “On one of my visits there was a rack of 40 or 50 lilac jackets. It was a nice jacket, but I thought to myself, these women need and deserve to feel their best, not just to wear whatever hasn’t sold at the end of the season,” Markle stated.
This is not the Duchess’ first foray in charity work; last year Markle released the charity cookbook Together: Our Community Cookbook with the women of the Hubb Community Kitchen who were affected by the devastating Grenfell Tower fire. At the Smart Set release, Markle said, “Today is about fashion not food, but this is a similar project because both have women helping women at their core.”