Fashion as a Force for Good Awards Ball will be the Yorkshire charity style event of the year as it celebrates Smart Works Leeds
You are preparing to attend a glittering and impossibly glamorous charity ball, but you have nothing to wear, because who on earth has been shopping for ball gowns in the last few years? An expensive shopping expedition is therefore required, right?
Wrong. The modern, on-trend ball-goer puts sustainability and saving the planet right at the top of her fashion-sourcing agenda, and what could be more sustainable than outfit rewearing, whether it be a pre-lockdown special occasion favourite, or something borrowed, or hired, or uncovered in a charity shop, or perhaps simply a long-forgotten gown of your own, packed away in the attic in a forlorn box marked “old party clothes”?
Taking place in Leeds in November, the Fashion as a Force for Good Ball is leading the way with sustainable occasion wear. It will be at The Marriott Leeds and promises to be a glamorous celebration of the best of Yorkshire fashion, in aid of Smart Works Leeds, the charity that dresses and coaches unemployed women for job and interview success.
Attendees are encouraged to dress in a way that makes them feel fabulous, confident - and perhaps also tells a story. “We invite you to wear that outfit you never thought you would, that has perhaps been stored in your wardrobe for too long, or it might be a favourite piece that reminds you of a wonderful time,” says Tracy Fletcher, Smart Works Leeds co-chair of trustees.
In preparation for the ball, Smart Works Leeds client and service delivery lead Keziah Kong and volunteer Penny Hindle agreed to dig out some pre-loved ball gowns and party wear for a special fashion shoot staged in Leeds city centre.
Sustainability influencer Penny Hindle lives in Leeds city centre and works as a software product owner. She has been shopping secondhand since she was a child. “Then in 2021, I made the conscious decision to give up buying new clothes and fast fashion, and only shop secondhand.”
Penny is a canny shopper and often profits from the shopping mishaps of others. “Before buying anything, add it to a list of things that you are thinking about. See if you can find it anywhere online. The Warehouse dress. I found it on the website, but within two days, it was on Vinted, brand new with tags. It was £14.50. So have a little patience, no impulse buying.”
Marking the charity’s 4th anniversary, the Fashion as a Force for Good Ball will also have an awards ceremony to recognise supporting individuals and companies.
Nominations are now being sought for eight awards including four celebrating Yorkshire fashion designers, influencers, stylists and retail outlets. Each must promote fashion as a force for good, and they will be judged on their commitment to sustainable fashion, their community, diversity, inclusivity and innovation. Nominate yourself and others for all categories here.
The fashion categories are:
Force for Good Indie of the Year - An independent Yorkshire fashion designer, shop or online boutique with community and/or sustainability at their heart as they deliver brilliant design and/or excellent customer experience and quality.
Force for Good Retail Team of the Year - For all Yorkshire fashion stores and retail outlets, large or small, brick or online. Smart Works Leeds is looking for teams that make a difference to their community and environment, where staff go that extra mile to make customers look fabulous and feel confident.
Force for Good Emerging Designer of the Year - For students, graduates and emerging designers, based in Yorkshire, who have a strong focus on sustainability and/or inclusivity challenges. Who is the One to Watch?
Force for Good Influencer of the Year - Which Yorkshire-based social media fashion icon do you admire most? Who wears it well, but also does so much more than that, highlighting issues of inclusivity, sustainability and ethics, championing others and striving always to use fashion as a force for good?
The Fashion as a Force for Good Ball will include a welcome reception, three-course meal, fundraiser fun and dancing. Smart Works Leeds co-chair Helen Oldham says: “It will be a night of magic moments with the ambition to ensure everyone in the room leaves the event feeling empowered and inspired. Every penny raised will go towards supporting unemployed women, guiding them to grow in confidence, get the job and change their lives, all through the transformative power of clothing.”
- Tickets for the Fashion as a Force for Good Ball on November 15 at The Marriott Leeds are £85, or £800 for a table for 10. Buy tickets here.
Meet the clients: Smart Works is a national charity which has so far helped more than 30,000 women find employment. Based at Mabgate Mills, Smart Works Leeds supported more than 600 women across Yorkshire last year.
Josepha Sebastian, 53, found herself out of work due to a change of circumstances. “I had talent but I didn’t know where it was,” she said.
Smart Works Leeds helped her prepare for an interview as a teaching assistant, providing an outfit and coaching. Josepha said: "Smart Works gave me the opportunity to show my skill.” Josepha is soon to start her brand new role.
Alla Horodetska, 34, is from Ukraine. She said her main barrier was “fear of starting work in a new country and lack of confidence”.
Smart Works supported Alla in her job search, from understanding the UK job market to identifying transferable skills. She has now also found a teaching assistant role and said: “Smart Works helped me understand that I have come a long way and I have an opportunity to find a suitable job for me. I have enough experience and responsibility to start a new life.”