The copy-Kates and proud of it: Every outfit Kate wears instantly sells out, but who are the women going to extreme lengths to mimic her style
01:54 GMT, 14 March 2012
Glowing: The Duchess' style is setting new trends
The phenomenon has become known as The Kate Effect. Whenever the Duchess of Cambridge appears in public, whatever she is wearing sells out instantly — both in store and online.
Few, if any, so-called fashion icons have ever wielded such power over the High Street. Little wonder then that every designer prays to be sprinkled with a little of Kate’s stardust.
Take last Thursday. The Duchess accompanied the Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh on an official visit to Leicester, looking resplendent in an elegant 1940s-style teal peplum suit by L.K. Bennett.
Earlier in the morning, the store’s website showed availability in a variety of sizes of the elegant two-piece (the ‘Davina’ dress was priced at 225 and the ‘Jude’ jacket at 295). But within an hour of Kate appearing in it, it had sold out in all sizes.
It’s not the first time the High Street store has basked in the Duchess’s glow. So potent a force is The Kate Effect that her influence has been calculated to be worth an astonishing 2 billion to the British economy.
Last month, Orla Kiely reported ‘an absolute frenzy’ on its website when Kate visited a school wearing its bird-print jacquard dress. And the list of other fashion houses reaping the benefits of her style choices is endless.
So how do fashion followers identify and track down what Kate is wearing so quickly The answer is surprisingly simple. ‘Repli-Kates’, as they like to be known, rush to log on to an ever-growing number of websites such as katemiddletonstyle.org and whatkatewore.com.
They are run by fashion bloggers and, in turn, their followers compete to identify what the Duchess is wearing as soon as pictures appear online. Then, customers quickly click onto the given retailer’s own website and snap up the skirt, dress or jacket of their choice.
As a result, the recession-hit fashion industry has received a welcome boost. The wonder of Kate is that she seems to appeal to budgets across the spectrum.
For example, not only did the 475 blue Issa dress she wore to announce her engagement sell out at Harvey Nichols, the 16 Tesco copy did, too.
Zara has also done extremely well in
the Copy-Kate stakes. Take the 49.99 cornflower blue dress she chose to
wear the day after her wedding. It sold out in 24 hours.
Meanwhile, the 69.99 black-and-nude lace dress Kate wore last December for a charity concert was snapped up with similar zeal.
undoubtedly, Reiss is the retailer which steals the crown for The Kate
Effect. At one point its 159 cream silk Nannette dress, worn for Kate
and William’s official engagement photograph, sold at the incredible
rate of one-per-minute online.
Kate, who channelled 1940's old-school glamour in a teal suit by L.K. Bennett nipped-in at the waist and shoes by Episode
Then, when Kate resurrected the dress during the royal tour of Canada, Nannettes changed hands on eBay for 750.
And let’s not forget the bandage-style 175 taupe Shola dress she wore to meet Michelle Obama at Buckingham Palace last May either.
It sold out in minutes, while traffic to Reiss’s website rocketed 500 per cent before eventually crashing under the pressure.
No wonder Reiss has nearly doubled profits at a time when many other High Street retailers are foundering.
And, it seems, as well as boosting the profile and profits of fashion brands, Kate is even capable of bringing them back from the dead.
Last month, she wore a grey coat-dress to the National Portrait Gallery which turned out to be by Jesire, a label that ceased trading last August.
So loud were the online clamours for the coat, that the company’s former boss, Martyn Vines, said: ‘I can only imagine how many sales we would have had today if we were still operating. It would be great to see Jesire re-emerge in the UK.’
He is currently in talks with the label’s Hong Kong owners about whether Kate’s endorsement may breathe new life into the brand.
Astonishingly, Kate doesn’t even have to be seen in an item for it to sell out. On a visit to the Kensington branch of Topshop last September, a fan tweeted she was buying a 65 blue boucle jacket and 38 teal spotted pencil skirt. Both sold out, even though the Duchess has never been seen in them.
So who are the women snapping up Kate’s style We tracked down four who were lucky to pick up replicas of her clothes before they sold out.
Becky Wakeling, 30, works in business development for a fashion company and lives in High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire.
She says: Even though I work for a fashion retailer, I wouldn’t have given the Armonia blouse from Alice by Temperley a second glance if it hadn’t been for Kate wearing it during her tour of Canada with Prince William last year.
On the rail it looked rather ordinary, but on Kate it was suddenly brought to life because she’s both classy and classic. She wore it so playfully with jeans and a cowboy hat, a combination I’d never have thought of. I managed to snap one up straight away online before it sold out.
Canadian cowboy style: Becky Wakeling, left, copies Kate’s stylish look, that she displayed on her recent trip to North America
I paid 195 for it and have worn it lots for business meetings and lunches with friends, mainly teamed with jeans, boots and a tailored jacket.
I would have loved to have got my hands on the cream Nannette Reiss engagement dress and the white-pleated Temperley one Kate wore to Wimbledon, but both sold out within minutes of her being pictured in them.
I’m getting married in December and I’ve now got my heart set on dressing my bridesmaids in Issa thanks to Kate.
She always looks so stylish and comfortable — you can tell she’s had a big hand in choosing her own clothes which adds to her appeal.
ISSA ENGAGEMENT DRESS
Christy Richardson, 23, is a manager for a training company and lives in North London.
She says: As soon as I saw the engagement interview on TV with Kate in the beautiful blue Issa dress, I was desperate to get my hands on one to wear for a wedding.
I have a similar figure to Kate, so I knew the dress would suit me. I paid 499 for it in Harrods using money from my savings. I’m generally a size 10, but they only had a size 8 left. Fortunately, because the fabric has a bit of give, it fitted me perfectly.
It’s a classic wardrobe staple and will probably be a collector’s item in years to come, too.
Before Kate wore the brand, I’d never even heard of Issa but now I’m a fan and am saving to buy a gorgeous maxi dress for the summer.
I also own the Reiss Shola dress she wore last year. But I have the navy version, as I’m blonde, and I didn’t think the taupe one brunette Kate wore would have suited me as well.
Engagement dress: Fan Christy Richardson dashed to Harrods for this Issa design
ISSA EVENING GOWN
Marine Malak, 22, is a graphic designer and lives in West London.
She says: I bought this daring floor-length Issa gown after seeing photos of Kate wearing it to a children’s charity auction in London. It cost 650, which wasn’t cheap, but I believe it will be a timeless classic that I can wear for years.
I borrowed the money from my parents and am slowly paying them back. The grey version, which Kate wore, had sold out, so I got an identical one in black to wear to a Christmas ball in London last year.
I fell in love with this Issa dress and its keyhole detail at the back. I expected it to be sold out, but was lucky to find one in my size online.
Designer evening gown: Marine Malak loved the Duchess’s daring dress
BLUE ZARA DRESS
Sarah Cohen, 38, is a civil servant and lives in Southampton.
She says: I was watching news footage of Kate the morning after her wedding and when a commentator said her lovely blue dress was from Zara, I realised I would be able to afford it too. I dashed to my local branch, where they had four left at 49.99 including one in my size.
I wish I’d bought them all, as they’d sold out everywhere within hours, and went on to sell for a fortune on eBay.
I’ve since worn the dress to several weddings and parties and it always attracts compliments. I think Kate is so elegant and beautiful. I follow her style so closely because I find it really inspiring. I wish I’d been able to copy her other outifits, but they’ve been either too pricey or they’ve sold out in an instant.
Newlywed outfit: Sarah Cohen snapped up Kate’s High Street bargain
I have High Street copies of the green Diane Von Furstenburg dress the Duchess wore to Zara Phillips and Mike Tindall’s pre-wedding party last summer, and the blue lace Erdem dress she wore on the tour of Canada.
I also own a really pretty pink Cashmere jumper from John Lewis that’s identical to the one worn by Kate on a beach walk with her sister Pippa in Anglesey last year — I was tipped off about that by one of the style bloggers I follow.
Additional reporting: SADIE NICHOLAS