She has injected some much-needed glamour and down-to-earth charm into the Royal Family. But it’s not just the Windsors who are feeling the “Kate Effect”. The Duchess of Cambridge has spawned a legion of Copy Kates – desperate to get their hands on absolutely anything she wears, owns and eats. Even if they have to fight for it (nope, we’re not kidding).
Such is her substantial influence on industries from fashion to food, that market intelligence firm Mintel has estimated her Midas-like touch is responsible for generating £1billion in spending – giving the struggling British economy a very welcome boost.
“Copying Kate enables us to buy into a little bit of her fairy-tale existence, and in these austere times a little escapism goes a long way,” says Alexandra Richmond, senior consumer and lifestyles analyst at Mintel.
“Whether it’s LK Bennett heels or a Kate-esque blow-dry, we want a bit of her life.”
So who exactly has benefitted from the Kate Effect? We find out…
- £1m The amount donated to charity in lieu of wedding presents for Kate and Wills
She wears it. We buy it. It sells out. Kate’s favourite stores have seen their sales rocket as we clamour to dress just like her. She’s become a fashion titan, and a godsend for many labels…
Reiss This year, one of Kate’s favourite labels, Reiss, saw profits almost double from £4.3million to £8.5million.
When she wore their £159 cream Nannette frock for her official engagement shoot with Mario Testino in November 2010, Reiss’ website crashed for two hours as it sold out. Reiss re-released the dress – only for it to sell out once again. The Nannette now changes hands on eBay for up to £1,000.
Last May, Kate wore the £175 beige Shola shift to meet the Obamas, and Reiss’ website saw a 500 per cent increase in traffic, crashing as a result.
“You can’t put in monetary terms what she’s done for the brand,” says founder David Reiss.
And thanks to the Kate Effect over the pond, the brand is expanding in the US, too.
Whistles Another British label that has reaped the rewards of the Kate Effect is Whistles, after she wore its 2008 cream £95 top in another of her official engagement photos, prompting the retailer to reissue the top as the Kate Blouse. But it also had a price upgrade to £125.
“We’ve had so much publicity. We’ve just opened in Russia, and we’re expanding to the US and south-east Asia,” says CEO Jane Shepherdson.
Kate even has the power to bring fashion back from the dead, with defunct label Jesiré’s owners considering relaunching it after the princess wore their ’50s-style grey coat dress in February. Jesiré stopped trading in August 2011, but the Kate Factor could bring it back.
“I’ve let the owners know about it. It would be great to see Jesiré re-emerge,” says Martyn Vines, former chief of the label.
But it’s not just Kate’s exact wardrobe that’s flying off the rails. She’s been responsible for spawning copycat items, from Tesco’s £16 version of the Issa dress she wore to the photocall to mark her engagement – which sold out in one hour – to Asda’s £14 coral jeans that flew off shelves after she wore a £190 J Brand pair to meet the UK’s Olympic women’s hockey team in March.
However, there is a downside to the Kate Effect. When she wore Links of London’s £275 Hope earrings, it prompted a fight in their New York store between two women desperate for the last pair.
And the retailer claims its association with the Duchess has cost £8.2million in lost revenue due to the hundreds of websites selling counterfeit copies of its products.
“Kate has driven the popularity of certain products, which have then become much more appealing to counterfeiters,” says Caroline Rolfe, Links of London’s Head of Online.
Let them eat cake
Twelve months ago Fiona Cairns was a successful, but largely unknown, pastry chef, based in Leicestershire, supplying cakes to Waitrose and Harrods. However, just one commission from Kate to make the Royal Wedding cake has transformed her business.
Fiona and a crack cake team spent five weeks creating the eight-tiered confection, with fruit cake layers and 900 iced flowers.
Demand for Fiona’s cakes has soared since the Royal Wedding. She’s increased her workforce by around 10 per cent and is fielding calls from around the world from people desperate to have a slice of the Kate cake action. Such is the demand, that Fiona has opened a bespoke service and launched a website to cope.
- £250 The estimated amount an average British woman spends a year on Kate-inspired clothes*
Keeping it in the family
While Kate’s influence is a global one, it’s close to home that her rise to royalty has been most beneficial, with the Middleton family’s party business experiencing a meteoric boom.
After Wills and Kate announced their engagement in November 2010, visitors to the Party Pieces website rose from 75,000 to 300,000 in just one month, and Google recorded a 25-fold increase in searches for the company.
As it’s not a public company, the Middletons don’t have to publish profits, but City analysts estimate that Carole, 57, and Michael, 63, are worth £30million.
The Princess of hearts
After the announcement in January that Kate was to become the patron of four charities: Action on Addiction, East Anglia’s Children’s Hospices, The Art Room and The National Portrait Gallery, it’s a sure bet that donations to these organisations will now soar. If Kate cares enough about them to be their patron, then her fans will open their wallets
And the £1,058,367 contributed to the Royal Wedding Charitable Gift Fund, instead of giving gifts to the newly married Kate and Wills, will have significantly boosted the 26 charities chosen to benefit.
P.S… Puppy power!
Even animals are feeling the might of the Kate Effect, with sales of cocker spaniels like Lupo, the couple’s dog, soaring by 50 per cent after he joined the royal family in December last year.