Meghan Markle's romantic relationship with Prince Harry has raised her profile to stratospheric heights and, like many a royal fiancée before her, her wardrobe choices are closely watched. Dubbed "the Meghan effect," what Markle wears to a public appearance can have a major impact on a brand's profile and its sales. The duchess-to-be has been a long-time supporter of Canadian fashion, most visibly through her work as an ambassador for Montreal-based women's clothier Reitmans. While that relationship came to an end last April, Markle has continued to sport Canadian clothing and accessories, most recently donning a coat by Toronto-based Smythe to visit a British radio station on Jan. 9.
With the immediacy of social media, many fashion labels are recognizing that it's important to have nimble digital and e-commerce strategies in place to capitalize on the moment when a celebrity's outfit choice becomes big news. In most cases – including when a brand has a close, or even commercial, relationship with an A-lister – a company learns that he or she has worn one of its pieces at the same time as the rest of us – when it is tagged on Instagram or Twitter.
In the case of Sentaler, a Canadian outerwear brand that has been worn by Markle and her future sister-in-law, the Duchess of Cambridge, the surprise endorsement has been a gift.
"Right at 6 a.m. on Christmas morning, we were tagged on Twitter and I was thrilled to see a picture of Meghan Markle wearing a piece from my collection for such a significant occasion," Bojana Sentaler says of the moment Markle wore one of her alpaca coats to a Christmas Day appearance with the Royal Family. Sentaler says it's nearly impossible to be at the ready for the jump in brand awareness and demand that Markle brings. "It is definitely busy at the office keeping up with social media and fulfilling orders," she says. "But at the same time all of this has been such an honour and thrill."
Eva Hartling, vice-president and chief marketing officer at Birks, says time is of the essence when a future member of the Royal Family wears your earrings, as Markle has done more than once, including on the occasion of her engagement photos. "As a team, we come together to expedite [things] in a detailed yet efficient manner, allowing us to respond quickly," says Hartling. One of the Montreal-based company's top-performing social-media posts to date was of Markle in its wares, and Birks has seen traffic to its website increase fourfold since her endorsement.
When Markle sported that light camel coat by Smythe earlier this month, the company had to spring into action, not just on social media but in production, as the Brando coat that Markle wore was a 2015 piece and no longer available. To satisfy consumer demand, Smythe co-founders Andrea Lenczner and Christie Smythe decided on the spot to reissue the coat for pre-orders, linking to it via the "swipe up" function on their Instagram stories. It seems Markle's influence on the industry is so strong, she can bring fashion back from the dead.
THIS WEEK'S STYLE HAPPENINGS
MatchesFashion.com is launching an exclusive 10-piece capsule collection of blazers with Blazé Milano. As part of its Digital Trunk Show series, the collection can be seen online via a 360-degree shoppable video and live social media chat. Handmade in Milan using British heritage fabrics such as Prince of Wales check, the blazers will be available beginning Jan. 18. For more information, visit www.matchesfashion.com.
The Queen Street West location of Australian skin-care brand Aesop is playing host to Toronto-based multidisciplinary design firm MSDS Studio. As part of design celebrations for the 2018 Toronto Design Offsite Festival, Aesop will present "Place and Thing," a lighting and window display created by MSDS inspired by intelligent design and intimate environments. The installation will be on view until the end of January at 880 Queen St. W.
Net-A-Porter and its men's partner site Mr Porter are launching two exclusive Balenciaga capsule collections. On Jan. 22, both sites will launch ready-to-wear bags, jewellery and accessories in styles from the Spring 2018 collection in limited-edition colour combinations and prints. It's the first time creative director Demna Gvasalia has collaborated on dual women's and men's collections with a retailer since joining the French fashion house. For more information, visit www.net-a-porter.com.