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'The Middleton Effect' on Brands
By: Anamika Pande Ved
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Thanks to Kate Middleton, a.k.a. the Duchess of Cambridge, British brands are reportedly finding more traction in the American market and customers are moving from the niche French, Swiss, Spanish, or U.S brands to British lines. The marriage of Kate Middleton and Prince William has certainly helped British brands with making inroads in the wardrobes of American customers who are infatuated with Kate and gush about her fashion sense.
Brands like LK Bennett, a luxury women's fashion brand based in London and now synonymous with Kate's style from dresses to shoes, are taking advantage of this new renewed interest in British brands among U.S consumers. The brand, which was formerly sold online and in department stores, opened stores in Atlanta, Houston, Chicago, and Hackensack last year and is now in New York.
Kate’s style has been instrumental in word-of-mouth marketing for various brands. What Kate wears grabs people’s attention, leading to a spike in the number of British stores opening up in the U.S. The British cosmetic retailer, Space NK, which opened its first store in SoHo in New York in 2009, now has stores in other parts of the city and several boutiques in Bloomingdales.
In April of this year, three British high street retailers — Warehouse, Oasis, and Coast London, owned by a company called Aurora Fashion Brand — made their wares available to U.S customers through a new ecommerce platform called andotherbrands.com. The two of the three retailers (Warehouse and Oasis) are favorites of Kate Middleton and are yet another instance of the brands favored by the royal expanding to the U.S market.
Vivien Sheriff hats and headpieces, for which Kate has shown special fondness, is now much revered by U.S customers, leading to a dramatic increase in sales.
U.S customers are getting more inclined towards British scents. English scents are taking up more shelf space than French in Sephora. Space NK, which reportedly carries over 60 specialist brands, is now stocking more English perfumes as compared to niche brands from France, Spain, and the United States.
Similarly, St. Tropez, a self-tan brand specializing in skin finishing treatments and bronzing cosmetics, has seen a recent spurt in the sales of English brands with the sales going up 70% last year.
Much has been said about the impact of the royal association on the British brands’ performances in the U.S market, and while most believe that the "Middleton effect" is evident through the upswing in sales, there are few who think otherwise. In the words of David Yermack, a professor at New York University’s Stern School, "This obsession with Kate Middleton’s wardrobe will be episodic. I don’t think she can morph into a fashion icon when everyone knows her so well."
Whether Kate will have the same fashion staying power and the same impact on the market is only for time to tell, but for now, U.K brands definitely seem to love her as the British brand ambassador. As David Reiss, CEO of fashion brand Reiss, says, “We already have really strong brand recognition in the U.K., but now people have a new understanding of who we are in the U.S.”


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About the Author
Anamika Pande Ved is a blogger, content curator, and content writer with Global Washington, a non-profit in Seattle, Washington. She is fascinated by commercials, more so if they are used for "social good." She is an avid traveler, reader, and a singer. Find her on Twitter here anamikaved15@gmail.com
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