The Princess Charlotte Effect

As Princess Charlotte turns 1, experts say she'll be worth more than $6 billion to the UK economy during her lifetime

Princess Charlotte wears a cardigan by Olivier Kids, m&h dress, tights from Amaia Kids and shoes from from Early Days. Picture / HRH Duchess of Cambridge.

The Duchess of Cambridge has tweeted a series of charming pictures of her daughter Princess Charlotte to celebrate her first birthday, on May 2.

The set of four portraits, which includes the first photograph of Charlotte walking, were all captured by the Duchess, herself, with the caption: "We hope that everyone enjoys these lovely photos as much as we do." The photos follow the recent release of Kate’s first ever Vogue cover and fashion shoot, taken by Josh Olins, in honour of Vogue’s 100 anniversary.

Although Princess Charlotte has mainly been dressed in Spanish childrenswear labels, such as m&h and Amaia Kids, she is also wearing an emerging British childrenswear designer in her birthday portraits. She wears a cream vintage-inspired cashmere cardigan by Olivier Kids, which is $123. Emma Davison, who previously worked at Cath Kidston, created the label in 2011 after the birth of her second child.

Olivier has already experienced an impact on sales by their royal wearers. "Prince George wore one of our cardigans to the polo last summer and we immediately noticed a surge in orders, not just from the UK but from as far afield as Japan and America," she explains. "Even this afternoon we've seen a huge increase in visits to our website. The effect is incredible."

It didn’t take long for the world to realise how much of a style-setter Princess Charlotte would be. Within minutes of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge appearing on the steps of the Lindo Wing with their 10-hour-old daughter a year ago tomorrow, the makers of her $140 shawl were flooded with requests from parents. Gillian Taylor, a director of Nottingham-based G.H. Hurt & Sons, recalls the company’s website receiving 100,000 visitors from 183 countries. “We sold a lot initially in America, Australia, Canada and are still selling some now,” she says.

Princess Charlotte wears a pale pink Peter Pan collared dress, with matching m&h cardigan, woolen Amaia Kids tights and dark Early Days pumps. Picture / HRH Duchess of Cambridge.

Such is the “Princess Charlotte effect” that experts at Brand Finance predict she’ll be worth more than $6 billion to the UK economy during her lifetime.

For the brands the Duchess of Cambridge dresses her little girl in, the effect is immediate. “Princess Charlotte wearing two of our floral dresses has had a huge impact on our brand,” says Margarita Pato, who started Spanish childrenswear label m&h with her mother and brother. While the dresses Charlotte wore were already sold out when the pictures broke (“We only offer 10 per store of each dress, otherwise all the girls will be in the same outfit”), the halo effect has left the brand planning an ecommerce site that will ship to the UK, Europe and the United States.

Understandably, the Duchess wants to minimise the frenzy that surrounds each picture of Princess Charlotte. She’s dressed her in near-identical outfits - those m&h floral dresses with pink cardigans. But a poll last week claimed one in five parents see Charlotte as a style icon for their children - and the shopping statistics back it up. After the image of Charlotte in pink booties on a family skiing holiday was released in March, childrenswear retailer experienced a 97 per cent increase in sales of a similar style.

“Demand for items Princess Charlotte wears will surge massively on our site,” explains a representative of online childrenswear shop Alex and Alexa. “We saw an increase in customers searching for pale pink cardigans and floral dresses after the first shots of Princess Charlotte were released last year and this grew again after the release this month of the adorable shot of the Queen with her grandchildren.”

Princess Charlotte wears a cardigan by Olivier Kids and bow from Amaia Kids. Picture / HRH Duchess of Cambridge.

Prince George and his sister have worn predominantly Spanish labels, including Amaia Kids and Fina Ejerique. Although this has largely been credited to the fact that their nanny, Maria Borrallo, is from Palencia in northern Spain, it’s perhaps also because the classic Spanish childrenswear aesthetic suits the royal family.

“Culturally, the Spanish have always dressed children up at the weekends in a very classical fashion; traditional Sunday best styles and beautiful fabrics without a hint of fad or trend,” says Estelle Lee, editor-in-chief of Smallish Magazine. “In the UK, there seems to be a backlash against the vulgarity of dressing children as mini-me’s. So, recently there has been an influx of brands importing the Spanish aesthetic: tasteful, keeping childrenswear simple and age appropriate. Parents want to keep their children looking as though they’ve just tumbled out of Enid Blyton’s faraway tree. Which is exactly as it should be.”

Gonzalez, who started a South Kensington-based boutique specialising in Spanish labels, agrees. “The appeal of these brands is that they are elegant and slightly more formal yet also timeless,” she says. “The style is much more classic for children with Peter Pan collar shirts, soft colours, floral prints. We enjoy seeing our children look like children.”

Spanish childrenswear also tends to be more affordable than designer tot labels, which is in keeping with the fashion habits of the Duchess, who is known for wearing attainable, high street brands. The priciest dress at m&h is a purse-friendly $45 .While some might feel this retro style is making the little royals appear old-fashioned, British luxury childrenswear designer Rachel Riley says it’s more about an appropriate formality. “In the stamp portrait the Queen is wearing a formal dress and Charles and William are wearing suits, so it’s appropriate for Prince George to wear a formal outfit,” she says.

— The Daily Telegraph

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