This paper shows how public regulators can improve the design, uptake, and compliance with private sustainability standards through information provision, capacity building, economic incentives, and legal recognition. Conversely, private sustainability standards may compensate for some of the weaknesses of public regulation by offering more speedy, flexible, and less bureaucratic implementation. Moreover, bringing Southern actors into the governance mix promises to create regulatory regimes that are more context-sensitive, equitable, inclusive, and comprehensive in their coverage. However, there are also major challenges. This includes overly optimistic assumptions in the smart mix literature about the prospect of enabling and sustaining complementary and progress-oriented patterns of governance interactions between actors with often diverging interests, worldviews, and power resources. This paper brings these issues to the fore, thereby advancing an analytical perspective that is more attuned to the political dimensions of smart governance mixes.