I had been visiting the Military Medical Rehabilitation Hospital in London since 2008, when many casualties were returning from Afghanistan. I soon realised that what the service personnel feared the most was the trauma and uncertainty of finding a new career after their, often unwanted, medical discharge. I believed that providing them with smart, well-fitting clothes for interviews, occasions and civilian life would help their self-esteem and confidence. Style for Soldiers was born.
As the founder of menswear designer brand Emma Willis, I could offer complimentary bespoke shirts to the young servicemen and women as a gift of gratitude for their service, courage and sacrifice. But we needed to find a provider of the suits. A friend introduced me to Robert Swannell, the former Chairman of M&S. He immediately said that M&S would love to support.
In September 2015, I met with Steve Rowe to discuss the opportunity to support Style for Soldiers – and the meeting exceeded my every expectation. Instantaneously, one of Britain’s most-loved and high-quality clothing retailers committed to offering support for our charity, enabling every young injured veteran to receive suits from M&S’s collection. M&S was the perfect partner for us, with famously friendly colleagues and stores located across the UK, making it convenient and accessible for the young veterans to collect their suits.
What’s more, I discovered that we shared a mutual connection, as David Gandy is an Ambassador for Style for Soldiers and the Ambassador of Tailoring for M&S Menswear. We wrote a joint letter from Style for Solders, M&S and David Gandy to accompany the voucher, commenting how proud we all were to support our veterans.
On 12th November 2018, M&S will be sponsoring ‘The Power of Dressing’ Evening as part of the Style for Soldiers exhibition Art in the Aftermath at La Galleria, Pall Mall in London.
Style for Soldiers’ Ambassadors David Gandy and Lisa Armstrong, Fashion Editor of The Daily Telegraph, will discuss the importance of dressing well during recovery with a group of injured servicemen and women. Tickets are available to purchase here for the event, which includes a champagne reception with the opportunity to talk to Lisa, David and the young veterans. Portraits of the soldiers proudly wearing their M&S suits will be on display at the exhibition, which is open from 6th to 17th November and will showcase paintings, poetry and film created by the young veterans as part of their physical and psychological recovery.
David Gandy, Style for Soldiers Ambassador, is supporting the veteran artists in the build-up to the Art in the Aftermath exhibition
We’re extremely grateful to M&S for supporting Style for Soldiers, as we continue to provide the vital support to our many servicemen and women affected by life changing injuries in recent conflicts. M&S has provided over 750 vouchers to date and has ensured not one injured serviceman waits for a suit. We’ve heard from many young veterans of how their smart appearance ‘got them the job’ and helped them to settle back into civilian life throughout their recovery.
“Thank you for the wonderful gifts you have given me; for helping me to feel smart and comfortable when I was broken.” – Captain Tom Hutton.