May 27th, 2011
04:29 PM GMT
Share this on:

She may be the Duchess of Cambridge but she's also the queen of Britain's shops.

The girl once called Kate Middleton is undeniably a fashion icon with huge influence – and now she's got cash tills ringing at retailers right across the United Kingdom.

Economists credit the 29-year-old with helping to boost consumer confidence figures, released in the UK Friday, while April retail sales also grew as women across the nation scrambled to get the Kate look. Everything she wears - seemingly everything - is scrutinized, analyzed and promptly sells out within hours. It’s a dream come true for the sales department but a nightmare in terms of I.T.

A case in point: The blue dress the Duchess wore to announce her engagement to Prince William helped to boost sales by 45 percent for the London label Issa.

This week, unprecedented demand for a flesh-toned satin number she donned to meet the U.S. President and First Lady crashed the website of its maker Reiss. The garment retails at just $300 – a pretty penny, certainly, but hardly an extravagance for one so wealthy. It was also reportedly several times cheaper than the designer outfit chosen by Michelle Obama, showing it’s hard to put a price on elegance.

The Middleton effect is worth big money, especially in a premium clothing market which Barclays Corporate estimates will be worth a third more by 2014 at just shy of $15B.

And no British fashion chain has benefited more from the Duchess’s patronage than Reiss. The company began with just one menswear store on the fringes of London’s financial district, known as The City. Today, it’s a multi billion-dollar business, with 106 stores around the world. Reiss now employs 1,500 people and has branches in 10 countries, including the burgeoning economies of China, Russia and the United Arab Emirates.

That’s good news because Middleton mania is a truly global phenomenon. The dress the Duchess wore this week is now completely sold out on both sides of the Atlantic. 

It’s not the first time Britain’s newest royal has provoked a surge in demand for its designs. On four separate occasions the Duchess turned up to events wearing Reiss, prompting huge interest in the brand and a fair bit of overtime for its press relations team. Reiss’s suitably hip Head of Media is Helena Choudhury. She says the Middleton effect has been “absolutely phenomenal” for the company.

“She is one of the most watched women in the world at the moment so anything she wears is bound to have an impact,” Choudhury says. “Of course it will have an impact on sales but it also introduces us to completely different type of customer.”

Kate may now be married but the Middleton boost lives on in the form of her younger sister Pippa, who after a stellar performance at the royal wedding is now making waves for her wardrobe too. A blue blazer she wore after the big day sent fashion bloggers into a frenzy. As you can imagine, that’s likely to be good news for its maker Zara, owned by Spain’s textile giant Inditex.

The Middleton sisters’ whimsical choice of clothes has helped change the way companies manufacture their garments. When Kate sported Reiss’s white “Lynette” dress to her official engagement photo shoot with legendary snapper Mario Testino, Reiss’s phone began to ring.  After releasing the dress for a second time in January, the store is now on it's second order. By the time I spot it in their flagship boutique, they are down to their last three (sadly none are my size).

Choudhury concedes it’s challenging reordering items at such short notice.  The dress in question, she says was unavailable at the time the pictures were released as it was from a previous season. “We had to re-release it and it sold out very quickly afterwards. It takes a few weeks to produce the clothes but luckily people are prepared to wait.”

The Duchess of Cambridge’s trendsetting and dedication to Main Street is one of a number of factors changing the way women consume all sorts of apparel across the UK.

In a new book called “To Die For” writer Lucy Siegle estimates that the average woman demands about four times as many clothes today as she did in 1980.  If that doesn’t make you think, listen to this: Because clothes have become cheaper, Siegle says the average female shopper in Britain accumulates about 28 kilograms of them each year.

That may be good for those who sell clothes - but it’s a nightmare for the environment with over 2,500 tonnes of clothing going to landfills each year across the country.

For those shoppers as keen on saving the planet as updating their image, the solution comes in the form of initiatives like The Clothes Exchange, set up by Marks and Spencer and Oxfam in 2008.  These schemes encourage customers of certain stores to give their old clothes to charity in return for discount vouchers.

Endorsing an initiative like that would win the Duchess of Cambridge more brownie points in my book than her love of modestly-priced dresses.

Posted by: ,
Filed under: Business


soundoff (18 Responses)
  1. Ash44

    Leave her alone !!!

    May 27, 2011 at 8:56 pm |
  2. naman sharma

    kat is looking gooooorgius .......
    and .......

    May 28, 2011 at 5:08 am |
  3. naman sharma

    and i love prince harry.....

    May 28, 2011 at 5:09 am |
  4. Vim McEwan

    Go Kate ...I like you now, more than ever as I thought I was the shopping queen here in Oz !

    May 28, 2011 at 8:13 am |
  5. Catherine

    They're actually really lovely clothes, stylish and look easy to wear. It's just that the idea comes from the Duchess of Cambridge. I think the recycling of clothing in some way is really important for the sake of the environment

    May 28, 2011 at 8:42 am |
  6. Chris

    What about the Pippa effect?

    May 28, 2011 at 11:15 am |
  7. Saritha Chilakamarri

    I really don't understand why people go crazy, aping, when it comes to fashion. Katt z like any other woman, after all. Leave her alone.

    May 28, 2011 at 4:59 pm |
  8. Sarithas Fan

    To Saritha Chilakamari

    I love your comment – Katt like any other woman, after all, leave her alone. HOW MANY RANDOM PEOPLE's DRESSING SENSE DO YOU LEAVE YOUR COMMENTS ON?

    Geeezzzzz people who are saying leave her alone, and then even commenting on blogs!

    what irony

    May 29, 2011 at 1:24 am |
  9. Juliette Kennedy

    It's called the Reiss Nannette dress, not Lynette.

    May 29, 2011 at 5:46 pm |
  10. Pretty Polly

    I honestly do not understand the point of wearing something that another person did, famously so.
    "Look, I am wearing a dress just like the one Kate wore when she met Michelle Obama!" .... Yeah – so?
    Really, what's the POINT of that?
    Never could understand it, and I don't think I ever will.

    May 30, 2011 at 12:41 am |
  11. point of sales displays

    Hi, Neat post. There's a problem together with your site in internet explorer, could test this? IE nonetheless is the marketplace leader and a large component to other folks will leave out your magnificent writing because of this problem.

    April 27, 2012 at 3:30 pm |
  12. Hier bestellen

    I do not even know how I stopped up here, however I believed this publish was good. I do not know who you are but certainly you are going to a famous blogger should you aren't already. Cheers!

    September 17, 2012 at 2:04 am |
  13. ORMUS elements can be a connecting channel between "spirit as well as mind/matter" then they may work sort of like the air which attaches us with all the resonance of seem. The ORMUS elements can improve the connection to heart.

    I'm now not sure the place you are getting your info, but great topic. I needs to spend some time finding out much more or figuring out more. Thanks for excellent info I was in search of this info for my mission.

    September 19, 2012 at 6:15 pm |
  14. masini rabla

    I do trust all the ideas you have offered to your post. They're really convincing and will certainly work. Still, the posts are too brief for newbies. May you please lengthen them a little from next time? Thanks for the post.

    September 21, 2012 at 7:44 am |
  15. list games skidrow

    Thank you for any other informative site. Where else may just I get that kind of information written in such a perfect manner? I have a challenge that I'm simply now operating on, and I've been on the glance out for such information.

    September 22, 2012 at 4:58 am |
  16. Air Conditioning Guide

    I have been exploring for a little for any high-quality articles or weblog posts in this sort of area . Exploring in Yahoo I ultimately stumbled upon this web site. Studying this information So i'm happy to exhibit that I have a very just right uncanny feeling I came upon just what I needed. I so much for sure will make sure to do not fail to remember this site and provides it a look on a relentless basis.

    September 25, 2012 at 10:35 pm |
  17. amour

    Hi there, I found your web site by way of Google whilst looking for a comparable topic, your website came up, it seems to be great. I have bookmarked to favourites|added to my bookmarks.

    February 15, 2013 at 12:09 pm |
  18. Stefany Pickford

    I have to disagree with lots of the other comments pointed out here, but at the same time I truly do respect them since every single human being need to have their very own personal opinion. We appreciate you writing an write-up with this subject.

    http://www.thuhdailyreader.org

    October 10, 2013 at 10:50 pm |

Post a comment


 

CNN welcomes a lively and courteous discussion as long as you follow the Rules of Conduct set forth in our Terms of Service. Comments are not pre-screened before they post. You agree that anything you post may be used, along with your name and profile picture, in accordance with our Privacy Policy and the license you have granted pursuant to our Terms of Service.

About Business 360

CNN International's business anchors and correspondents get to grips with the issues affecting world business, and they want your questions and feedback.

 
 
Powered by WordPress.com VIP