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Is Kate's Effect on Fashion Overstated?

Monday, January 7, 2013

Let me just say that I will close this post with a comment on Downton Abbey Season 3 ep. 1. If you are one of my lovely UK readers you are rolling your eyes over old news. If you are an American glued to the telly last night, you also are in the know. If you had some credible disaster that kept you from watching the US premiere last night,but you already know the big news from ep. 1, continue. But, if are not from the UK, were not glued to your U.S. TV last night, and are planning to get caught up this evening, don't scroll to the bottom of the page. I am skeptical that last category exists, but just to be safe. Now to talk of Kate...

If you are like me, you are feeling some light Royal Withdrawal, so while we wait for Kate to either make an official appearance, or pop out to the local convenience store for a snack, let's get caught up on some interesting news stories. 

It has been reported that Kate is planning a menu, with Lorraine Pascale for Prince Charles' Prince's Trust Ball- I know, I saw ball and my ears perked up, too--to be held on Valentine's Day. Pascale explained to the Telegraph that she is designing petit fours and the main dish, but added:
"I will be doing a tasting with Kate, which is very exciting. I’m sure with her help we’ll be developing some beautiful dishes."
Although, she only explicitly said Prince Charles was going, if Kate is helping out perhaps she and her handsome husband will make an appearance. Or they might sit home in Anglesey. We wait. 

Also, intriguing from the Telegraph today was the confusing headline, The Kate Effect Overstated Due to Thriftiness, which left me very puzzled and lightly incredulous.  Those of us who admire Kate know how quickly her clothes sell, and the frenzy with which women around the globe watch her every fashion choice. The argument runs along the line that people who admire Kate Middleton are less likely to copy her exactly, particularly as she transitions from high street to haute couture.  Even sales of the clothes she has specifically worn from the more affordable brands do not sell out for the simple reason they are gone before she wears them:
But the Duchess’s propensity for wearing older designs means that those hoping to emulate her style often find that the creations have long gone from the fashion rails.
Andy Rogers, brand director at Reiss, admitted that while the Duchess raised the profile of the brand, they did not sell “zillions” of that white dress because it was an old style.
These retailers did, however, admit that even if the particular style has worn does not sell out their brand name has seen marked improvement:
Shepherdson has described the Duchess as “a great advert, but no more than that”.
However, such adverts are undoubtedly good for business. Reiss credits the Kate Effect with rapid global growth, while Littlewoods reported a 238 per cent jump in sales of hockey sticks after she took to the pitch at the Olympic Park in Stratford last year.
This is the moment you burst out laughing. This might be clearer to Americans, because many Americans had never heard of LK Bennett, Whistles, Reiss--obviously we have Zara over here, but it was not as popular or well known as it is now.  As my cheeky brother would say, let me break this down for you. The fact is, even if the actual item that Kate wore is not available, women turn to many of these brands for their fashion needs because Kate has worn the label. When a woman shops for clothes, shoes, bags, and so forth, and Kate having worn the label is the tipping factor on whether they purchase, that is significant power.  I know many pieces in my closet were purchased because Kate wore the label, and I also know I am not alone. Rapid global growth is also a rather impressive effect.  In these financial times and the resulting aggressive atmosphere, that kind of edge is golden. I would say the "Kate Effect" is stronger than ever.

One question I had months ago was randomly answered in this article:
He [Mouret] disclosed that the Duchess has specifically requested that a cream Mouret gown she wore to a dinner at Claridge’s last year was cut slightly looser than the sample.
When she wore the dress last year you could see she had plenty of breathing room.

Keep your eyes peeled for the release of an official portrait of the Duchess of Cambridge that is set to be displayed at the National Portrait Gallery.  Rumor has it that Paul Emsley has received the commission, and although some have found his work lightly unusual, I think he will stay classical for the conservative Duchess of Cambridge. In any case, rumors are rumors, we will have to just wait and see.

For my American readers, if you are still craving something beautiful, rewatch last night's premiere of Downton Abbey Season 3. That wedding was a mini royal wedding. I loved it! Lady Mary was second only to Kate. Watch with tea and cake...

Telegraph on Valentine's Day Ball
Telegraph on the "Kate Effect"


  1. Absolutely right. She obviously is a boost for business. Every designer would kill to have Kate wear their clothes.

  2. I love Downton Abbey, too. Thank goodness Matthew and Mary are married at last. Thanks for update on Catherine. I hope the portrait isn't dreadful. Emsley and all.

  3. Oh I wish Season 3 were upon us here in France ! As for Kate, she is exactly in the "air du temps", being thrifty and not trying to wear the latest fashion. That is what style is all about !x


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