Costly mistake Meghan Markle keeps making
When Meghan Markle finally packed up her Tibetan singing bowls and flew to London to start her life with Prince Harry in late 2017, there were plenty of reasons to rejoice: Prince Harry had finally found love!
The royal family had finally dragooned a new member who brought with her the tantalising whiff of modernity and could help them finally log into Netflix! And, for the British fashion industry, she represented the possibility of a whopping boost to their bottom line courtesy of the so-called "Meghan Effect".
See, royal women have been supporting UK brands and retailers for decades. Diana, Princess of Wales got about in endless Catherine Walker and Amanda Wakeley pieces. Kate, Duchess of Cambridge has commissioned so much bespoke Alexander McQueen that head designer Sarah Burton probably has a huge red phone on her desk just for the mum-of-three to dial whenever she fancies placing another five-figure order.
However, new statistics from the Daily Mail show Meghan, since she officially joined the Firm, has firmly bucked this convention, and in the past year, a weenie 26 per cent of her looks came from Brit designers.
Contrast that with the comparatively whopping 39 per cent of her outfits that either came from American or Canadian brands. (Keep in mind that is where her rumoured unofficial stylist and BFF Jessica Mulroney is based too.) Australia just squeaks onto the list, with our labels accounting for about 4 per cent of her wardrobe, which is mainly due to the royal tour last year.
It might sound slightly churlish to be critiquing where Meghan decides to spend all those Duchy of Cornwall millions Charles gives her (and Kate too).
However, keep in mind Meghan's style choices have billion-dollar consequences for the struggling fashion industry.
Kate's enduring commitment to trotting out a raft of frocks and the occasional pair of pants from London-based fashion houses help generate about $2 billion a year in revenue for British fashion, it has been estimated. British Vogue editor Edward Enninful has argued the "Meghan Effect" could be worth even more.
When Meghan does choose UK labels, especially lesser-known ones, it can have an immediate and life-changing impact. For example, last week when she and Prince Harry introduced baby Archie to the world, she chose a custom sleeveless white dress from Grace Wales Bonner.
Immediately, thousands of news stories sprang up online about the young London-based designer - a once-in-a-lifetime boost that any brand would kill for.
Then there is Strathberry, the Scottish handbag brand she carried during her first official outing in November 2017. Within minutes of pictures of the soon-to-be Duchess carrying their tricolour midi tote hitting the internet, it had sold out. MINUTES. In the wake of their elevation to international fame, Strathberry has doubled its staff, now has a stand-alone London store and is even stocked in David Jones.
So, by choosing mainstream, big-name brands, Meghan is denying up-and-coming fashion houses money-can't-buy levels of global exposure. And she is also shirking part of the job she willingly signed up for.
The royal family are, essentially, global ambassadors for Britain, and thus what they choose to wear has huge import. "But I like it, and I want to put it on" just doesn't cut it when picking out a frock for the Trooping of the Colour. Not when you could be doing your bit for Old Blighty and donning a lovely demure pastel number from some recent St Martins design school graduate. And not when your own taste and wonts comes at the expense of adding billions to the nation's economy.
That might sound tough, but joining the royal family means sacrificing a lot of things (your dignity, your voting rights, your ability to do a biscuit run to the supermarket in your trackies), and that list also includes having complete autonomy over your appearance.
When a member of the royal family stands in front of their vast wardrobes (patient valet standing by) they do so knowing the image they present to the public must always be resoundingly patriotic.
And to be royal means to be useful because that at least gives them some semblance of purpose. Because we wouldn't want the billions of people who make the Commonwealth to start questioning their value now would we? That's when the "R" word (republic) starts to get bandied about.
So, back to Meghan and her stars'n'stripes wardrobe. Yes, the woman is breathtakingly stylish (and still has US citizenship), but she's a card-carrying member of the British establishment now. It's time to buy a Barbour jacket, some Hunter gumboots and to learn to love Jigsaw. That, or she can just borrow some of Kate's Alexander McQueen.