Markle still trendsetting in maternity wear

LONDON • Who is looking at Prince Harry? Instead, what his wife Meghan Markle wears can instantly send tongues wagging and designers' sales soaring.

Since being catapulted into the global spotlight as his girlfriend in 2016, the Duchess of Sussex's outfits and accessories have been scrutinised and copied, often crashing websites selling the apparel.

Fashion blogs and social-media accounts dedicated to the American's style have mushroomed - just as they sprang up for her sister-in-law Kate Middleton, Prince William's wife - allowing followers to comment on her latest sleek looks.

"The Meghan effect is this economic phenomenon similar to the Kate effect... where if she wears it, it turns to gold," said Ms Christine Ross, co-editorial director of the Meghan's Mirror fashion blog, describing the royal's style as "very on-trend and modern".

Almost everything Markle wears, up to and around the US$300 (S$407) or £300 (S$533) price mark, sells out, Ms Ross added.

For her busy royal diary, Markle usually wears expensive labels, namely French couture house Givenchy, whose British artistic director Clare Waight Keller designed her wedding dress.

Dior, Ralph Lauren, Carolina Herrera and Oscar de la Renta are among other formal and eveningwear go-to brands.

"Meghan's wardrobe is really unique because there are so many bespoke pieces in it and we'll really never know how much those cost," Ms Ross said, estimating the royal's wardrobe at £500,000 a year.

Duchess of Sussex Meghan Markle leaving Westminster Abbey in London in an outfit by British designer Victoria Beckham on Monday. The royal's outfits and accessories have been scrutinised and copied and websites selling the apparel have been crashing. PHOTO: EPA-EFE

While becoming a trendsetter, Markle, named last year's best dressed woman by People magazine, has stayed loyal to smaller brands she favoured before her global fame.

The 37-year-old, who used to film drama Suits in Toronto, has worn Canadian labels Mackage, Aritzia and Line The Label.

For casualwear, she has opted for J.Crew and brands known for their environmental and social credentials - a Reformation dress, Veja sneakers, Outland Denim jeans and jewellery made from recycled metal.

"Meghan carved this niche for supporting these sustainable fashion brands," said Ms Holly Rains, digital editor at magazine Marie Claire UK.

"People are now going to Meghan as a style muse. She crashes sites."

It is particularly her more affordable accessories that are snapped up by consumers.

"The jewellery, the bags, the belts are where we can dip in and get that kind of Meghan touch to our outfits," Ms Rains said.

Ms Ross said Markle's casual jean looks prove popular with readers, and her maternity wear as she awaits her first child is also eagerly followed.

"She's done a lot of bespoke pieces, a lot of customisation pieces that aren't maternity at all, and it's really been a difference," Ms Ross added.

Royal fashion expert Michael Talboys hopes to see Markle support more British labels. She has worn items from British brands Victoria Beckham, Strathberry and Marks & Spencer, and her second wedding gown was a halterneck dress by Stella McCartney.

"She should, as an English duchess, really be patronising English designers and promoting them in the eyes of the world," he said.

On the streets of London, student Savanah Edwards said Markle's classic style is having an impact.

"I cannot afford anything that she wears, but it does influence me to try new pieces," she added.


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 14, 2019, with the headline 'Markle still trendsetting in maternity wear'. Subscribe