When Kate Middleton burst onto the scene with the announcement of her engagement to Prince William in 2010, the ‘Kate effect’ came into full-force.
The Duchess of Cambridge’s ability to sell out everything from a £175 Reiss dresses to those trademark pairs of nude LK Bennett pumps has caused a frenzy in the UK fashion industry.
But now she has a rival in the new Duchess of Sussex, as experts predict Meghan Markle’s selling power could outshine even Kate’s appeal.
And it’s not just Meghan’s fashion which could give the UK economy a boost – the American former actress has the added bonus of pulling in sales from her homeland across the Atlantic.
So could the Markle Sparkle could take over the Kate effect…?
It’s estimated that Kate pumps £150million in revenue to the UK fashion industry every year, and her ability to sell out clothes is renowned.
When her Sarah Burton wedding dress went on display at Buckingham Palace in the summer of 2011, approximately £8m was raised for the Royal Collection.
Meanwhile, a £38 Topshop dress she wore while pregnant with Prince George sold out within an hour of her wearing it to film studios.
And it’s not just luxury fashion and high street brands Kate helps promote.
A £10 bracelet in aid of Suffolk’s Treehouse Hospice sold out after the Duchess of Cambridge was seen wearing one in 2012.
Ever since it was reported that Trilogy Rosehip Oil is responsible for Kate’s glowing complexion, a bottle of the £16.50 product started selling every 20 seconds.
But her bouncy, blow-dried brunette locks are the real source of her beauty branding power.
When it was revealed that the Duchess is a fan of Richard Ward Cleanse and Condition Shampoo, the £5.99 product sold out immediately in Waitrose.
Richard Ward is Kate’s hairdresser and £325 appointments at his Knightsbridge salon have seen waiting lists extend to six months since she became royalty.
Kate and Prince William’s beloved dog Lupo is a treasured addition to their family, and is regularly seen in official portraits.
The Kennel Club attributed the raised profile and interest in English Cocker Spaniels to Lupo, following a 50% surge in searches for the breed on their website following their ownership of the dog.
Meanwhile, the royal couple love taking the kids to the French Alps and after they were pictured visiting luxury skiing resort Courchevel, bookings for the three nearest airports spiked with 57% more flights booked than over the same dates the previous year.
Valuation firm Brand Finance estimates that Princess Charlotte adds £101m to the UK economy each year, while her older brother Prince George adds £76m.
At just six months old, Charlotte proved she had the same selling power as her mother. The £21 floral dress she wore a family portrait immediately sold out and its Spanish designer M&H was inundated with orders from around the world.
Meanwhile, Prince George’s cuddly kangaroo backpack sold-out just hours after Prince William was spotted holding it during a trip to Sydney in 2014.
In the run up to the Royal Wedding, Meghan caused several independent Canadian websites to crash by wearing their brands, including Line The Label, which she wore for her official engagement photos.
She caused a 400% increase in traffic to jewellery site Birks, and a 1000% increase in sales to sunglasses brand Finlay & Co, just by wearing their products.
Since the Windsor ceremony on Saturday, there has been a 160% increase in searches for Stella McCartney wedding dresses – Meghan’s choice of designer for her evening gown.
Richard Haigh, of Brand Finance, says the 36-year-old’s branding power will only continue to soar. “Following the wedding, we estimated that her brand power will be £150m a year, which is the same as Kate’s,” says Richard.
“Based on our estimate, she could pull in the same kind of brand potential as Kate for the fashion industry.”
Meghan’s appeal could surpass Kate’s at the beginning, as she boosts American as well as UK brands, Professor Jonathan Shalit, who runs InterTalent, says.
“The Meghan journey has been a completely phenomenal, unique journey,” he says. “The power of Meghan is quite staggering. I think she could be the biggest fashion brand in the world.”
But Jonathan says there may be a shift over time.
“I think right now she is the new kid on the block, and Kate is a mother-of-three,” he explains. “But eventually when Meghan has been doing this for a few years, they will both even out.”
Down-to-earth Meghan was praised for the natural make-up and “messy bun” she sported on her wedding day, with hundreds of websites rushing to advise others on how to copy her style.
Online beauty brand Memi announced a 65% rise in sales of nude lipsticks since Meghan wore a taupe hue during her engagement interview.
She also loves £7 Nivea’s Skin Firming Hydration Body Lotion to keep her skin moisturised.
It’s no secret that the Duchess of Sussex loves keeping fit and healthy, reportedly converting Prince Harry to green juices and helping him quit smoking.
She’s been pictured in a variety of yoga poses on her now defunct Instagram and loves running around Kensington Palace Green.
Since she was snapped in Kensington’s posh health shop Whole Foods, sales at organic independents and retailers have enjoyed a 9.7% sales jump to £359m.
Meghan’s also partial to a glass of wine, noting that her favourite red is the full-bodied and firm Tignanello – which she even named her lifestyle blog ‘The Tig’ after.
While the yoga and pilates business brings in £812m into the UK economy a year, the new Duchess’s lifestyle choices could see an even greater spike in its popularity.
Her wedding alone is predicted to have drawn in an additional £500m to Britain’s economy through tourism, travel, hotels and memorabilia, according to Brand Nation.
Friends of the royal couple revealed before their wedding on May 19 that the pair hope to have a baby within a year of getting married.
While there is no doubt that the youngsters would be of huge public interest, they may not attract quite the same frenzy as George and Charlotte, says Jonathan.
“I think it will be slightly different when Harry and Meghan have children, because their children will not be heirs to the throne,” he says. “It’s Meghan who has the real appeal, and while of course Harry dresses very smartly, he doesn’t have the same branding power.”
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