The Markle effect: the power of a royal super-influencer

Meghan’s megawattage will contribute £150 million to the British fashion industry, insiders tell Hilary Rose

Meghan Markle wearing a dress by Roland Mouret, £1,350 (sold out) and shoes by Manolo Blahnik, £470 (sold out) on the eve of her wedding
Meghan Markle wearing a dress by Roland Mouret, £1,350 (sold out) and shoes by Manolo Blahnik, £470 (sold out) on the eve of her wedding STEVE PARSONS/GETTY IMAGES

In the beginning, there was Kate. The Duchess of Cambridge burst on to the scene after her marriage in 2011, in a whirl of sold-out Reiss dresses and LK Bennett nude pumps.

However, fast-forward seven years and could the Kate effect, as it was quickly called, pale in comparison to the Meghan effect? While Kate’s appeal might be described as home counties 2.0, Meghan, with her ripped jeans and Hollywood stardust, has the potential to become an even bigger boost not just to the British fashion industry, but also to the economy as a whole.

Samantha Cameron, the founder and designer of Cefinn, and the wife of the former prime minister, knows a thing or two about dressing in the public eye.

“In the age of social media, celebrities and social influencers who showcase clothes in a lifestyle or relatable context are, increasingly, more effective than using models in editorial and campaign shoots,” she says. “Meghan’s minimal aesthetic feels very fresh at the moment. The effect of Meghan and Catherine is particularly valuable for UK brands selling to the US.”

Would she like to see Meghan in her own brand? “I would love to see her in Cefinn!”

“Markle is the definition of a super-influencer,” says David Haigh, the chief executive of Brand Finance, a British consultancy that specialises in brand valuation. “She’s an American film star, she’s very well known, she has lots of fans, she’s intelligent and outspoken. And she’s also got very good taste.”

Haigh believes that this year Markle will contribute about £150 million to the British fashion industry. In the future, he says, that figure will be measured in billions, and the cost to the taxpayer of the royal wedding will be more than offset by the taxes on everything that was sold as a result of it.

The signs were there from the get-go. At their first public appearance as a couple last September, when Harry had yet to put a ring on it, Markle wore a pair of £160 ripped jeans by Mother and carried a £120 bag by Everlane to visit the Invictus Games. The Californian brand Mother had an immediate 200 per cent increase in traffic to its website, the jeans sold out in three days and 400 people signed up to a waiting list.

Six months later the label’s co-founder Lela Becker said that the only reason they reissued the style, something that the brand doesn’t normally do, was because of the demand created as a direct result of Markle’s endorsement.