Whether it’s Kate Middleton’s Jenny Packham-clad maternity wardrobe or her future sister-in-law’s seriously covetable collection of Strathberry bags, there is not a single item hanging in their wardrobes which doesn’t garner sell-out status.
And royal fans no longer have to search high and low for the chosen names stitched into the backs of the leading ladies’ must-haves, as the industry’s love affair with regal fashion helped to kick-start two now-famous blogs.
Just a mere six weeks before the the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s 2011 nuptials, journalist Susan Kelley launched What Kate Wore, a site which provides self-confessed fans with everything from quick-fire guides on her latest look to high street ‘RepliKates’.
With the help of her husband (and of course the Duchess of Cambridge’s newfound position as one of the most influential style icons to date), Susan made the site her full-time job no longer having to balance the responsibilities of an online store alongside the fledging blog.
And thanks to undeniably apt timing and the help of royal reporters steering readers to her site, What Kate Wore soon became Insta cat-nip.
“There was an early interest in Kate Middleton’s wardrobe because fashion fans appreciated her ability to mix luxury labels with pieces from the high street that were affordable,” Susan explained.
She added: “Being able to buy a pair of the same Zara skinny jeans or the same Russell and Bromley flats that have been worn by the Duchess of Cambridge is very appealing. To many, Kate appeared to be approachable, almost like a neighbour down the street or the girl next door.”
And it was this Princess Diana-inspired knack of connecting with the public which also helped launch sister blog, What Would Kate Do?, the brainchild of friends Amanda Dishaw and Christine Ross.
In the summer of 2012, the duo founded the site and six years later, the blog is every royal journalist’s first pitstop on the hunt for the labels behind the Duchess of Cambridge’s latest looks.
Amanda told Yahoo Style UK: “The blog grew very quickly, as we realised that women were eager to not only find out more about Kate but about her clothes and what she was doing. They were looking to find ways to add royal inspiration and translate things Kate did or wore into their everyday lives.”
The ‘Kate Effect’ – a term coined quite literally as Kate Middleton graced the aisle in a Sarah Burton for Alexander McQueen dress back in 2011 – is now worth an eye-watering £1 billion.
But just as the global media circuit adjusted to full-blown Kate mania, a newbie rocked up at the doors of Kensington Palace.
“In early to mid-2016, we started to see a lot of chatter pop up about Meghan Markle, as a possible girlfriend of Prince Harry”, Amanda revealed. “She first came onto our radar when we caught a glimpse of her paralegal alter-ego, Rachel Zane, taking her fictional law firm by style storm. Those pencil skirts, the gorgeous silk blouses… Swoon.”
Taking the ultimate leap of faith, Amanda and Christine launched their next major project, Meghan’s Mirror, in November 2016 and it was a stellar payoff, as the website has gone on to be an unprecedented success.
Set to steal Kate’s crown, recent figures suggest that Meghan already contributes a cool £500 million to the fashion industry. And with the former actress busy prepping to wed Prince Harry on May 19, the 36-year-old has the potential to champion a £1 billion boost to the fashion economy in the near future.
But what is the secret behind the globe’s hankering for Meghan’s wardrobe?
Put simply, the duchess-to-be is a breath of fresh air in a household famed for its stiff upper lip and her royal closet is a physical representation of the modernity she is set to bring to Buckingham Palace.
From her makeshift messy bun to her seriously-covetable Strathberry bag collection, the former actress isn’t afraid to eschew regal tradition and is certainly having fun doing so.
“Meghan is a girl who prefers to wear a great pair of trousers versus a skirt, a girl who throws on a pair of distressed jeans while being photographed for the first time and a girl who throws her hair in a messy bun rather than a perfectly tousled blowout on occasion,” Amanda explained. “Her outfits are always perfection, but there’s sometimes one small detail off.”
“For example, the Joseph skirt she wore for World Aids Day had an unfinished hem while she wore two different earrings for her outing in Wales and I think that makes her so much more of a relatable fashion icon than the typical perfection one might expect from a member of the royal family.”
As a consequence to her chameleon-like approach to fashion, the former Hollywood actress has the ability to speak to everyone from the ‘Toronto mum wearing a parka and boots to her yoga class’ to the ‘British 20-something looking for a stylish errand running outfit in a London downpour’.
But the million pound question remains: does Meghan’s royal wardrobe have the potential to overtake the Duchess of Cambridge in the style stakes?
Both armed in the skilful art of sartorial diplomacy, it’s possible.
Amanda shared her predictions, as she told Yahoo Style UK: “Meghan and Kate both know that they are able to speak through their clothes and act as ambassadors for the fashion industry but I think Meghan’s impact could prove even greater than her future sister-in-law, Kate’s, because of the fact that her royal role does not hold the same expectations.”
“The ‘Kate Effect’ is well-known, with lesser-known brands she wears experiencing website crashes, inundations of orders and publicity and increases in sales that have led to international expansion for many of them,” she added. “Meanwhile, the ‘Meghan Effect’ is still in its infancy, but we have seen remarkable pickup on the fashion items Meghan wears.”
Unsurprisingly, it is the Duchess of Cambridge’s undeniable growth into her role within the royal family which has limited the exposure of her more laid-back looks.
“Kate’s wardrobe has become more conservative over the years, as she is married to a future king and mother of an heir,” Susan adds. “Therefore, her fashion choices reflect the importance of this position. This makes it more difficult for fans to ‘repliKate’ her style.”
Of course, Prince Harry is not likely to ever don the crown – he is currently sixth-in-line to the throne – meaning Meghan has more room to flex her sartorial muscles outside of the Kensington Palace gates. And with over two billion royal fans expected to tune in to watch her wed Harry on May 19, her wedding dress will undoubtedly be her greatest fashion moment to date.
Thankfully, both sites will be running live coverage from the grounds of Windsor Castle so you can catch a glimpse of the sartorial action as it happens.
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