LONDON — Saturday’s wedding at Windsor will be a boon for more than just Prince Harry, Meghan Markle and the royal family. It has already lifted the morale, and public image, of a country beset by problems — including Brexit woes, knife crime, a squabbling government — and the halo effect is set to last.
According to Brand Finance, the brand valuation and strategy consultancy, the wedding will benefit the British economy by more than one billion pounds, spread across several industries. Of that, some 150 million pounds is expected to come from increased clothing sales associated with the “Meghan economy” — women wanting to wear the same brands as the new Duchess of Sussex.
David Haigh, chief executive officer of Brand Finance, called Markle “an accomplished actress in her own right, with a global popularity and a strong personal brand.”
He said her association with monarchy means she will become “a powerful ambassador for British brands, especially in her native United States. Although we are observing only the beginnings of the ‘Meghan effect,’ it will undoubtedly match or even surpass the ‘Kate effect’ in its influence on the fashion industry,” referencing the impact Kate Middleton has had.
The company also said that earned media coverage for “brand Britain” in the run-up to the royal wedding, and live from Windsor, has a value of at least 300 million pounds, including international broadcast, online and print coverage.
The publicity could not have come at a better time for Givenchy, whose artistic director Clare Waight Keller made the wedding gown; Stella McCartney, who designed Markle’s evening look and dressed many of the celebrity guests, and Cartier, whose jewels the bride wore for day and evening.
Later this year, Givenchy is set to open its first London flagship on New Bond Street with triple frontage on Albemarle and Grafton streets. The store will be located in part of the Asprey flagship, which is downsizing yet again. The opening will be a big moment for Givenchy, which does not have a stand-alone home in London, but is stocked at Harvey Nichols, Harrods and Selfridges.
Markle’s choice will also turn the collective gaze onto the English designer Waight Keller. Kensington Palace said Saturday that Markle not only respected Waight Keller as a creative force — she enjoyed her company, too.
“After meeting Ms. Waight Keller in early 2018, Ms. Markle chose to work with her for her timeless and elegant aesthetic, impeccable tailoring and relaxed demeanor,” the palace said. “Ms. Markle also wanted to highlight the success of a leading British talent who has now served as the creative head of three globally influential fashion houses — Pringle of Scotland, Chloé and now Givenchy.”
Waight Keller certainly delivered: The wedding dressed wowed, and she managed to keep it a secret until the moment Markle stepped out of her vintage Rolls-Royce Phantom 4. Keller said later that only she and Markle knew for whom the dress was being made.
The strategy worked: No one even mentioned Givenchy as a contender, so the wedding dress — and its laid-back, discreet designer — will only add to the mystique of the brand.
Asked about the wedding’s impact on the brands involved, Hazel Catterall, head of women’s wear buying at Harvey Nichols, said: “We have found that the Harvey Nichols customer has reacted really well to brands that Meghan Markle has been wearing over the past few months. As a result, we have expanded our offering into some of her favorite labels and for fall-winter 2018 we will be housing brands such as Line and Smythe.”
Catterall added that following Saturday’s wedding, “where we saw Meghan wear beautiful gowns from Givenchy and Stella McCartney, I have no doubt that this will only have a positive impact for both brands.”
The timing was right for McCartney, too: The designer is taking back control of her brand from her long-term partner Kering — and may be looking to take on new investors as she sets up independently.
Next month McCartney will move her Mayfair flagship from Bruton Street to 23 Old Bond Street in the former Joseph space. The four-floor store, which is set for an official opening on June 13, will be the designer’s biggest worldwide and will encompass the brand’s new, experiential retail concept.
Her collection sells in more than 100 countries at wholesale and through 51 freestanding stores worldwide.
Later in June, McCartney plans to stage a presentation of her spring 2019 men’s collection and her women’s pre-spring 2019 collection in Milan. She’ll also be launching The Loop, a glue-free sneaker for men and women with components that fit together like Lego pieces.
A well-seasoned celebrity dresser and the official outfitter of Team Britain in the last two Olympic games, McCartney was one busy woman ahead of the royal wedding. For the black-tie reception Saturday evening, she dressed the new Duchess of Sussex in a sleeveless white silk crepe gown with a high collar from Stella McCartney Bespoke.
“I am so proud and honored to have been chosen by the Duchess of Sussex to make her evening gown and represent British design,” the designer said. “It has truly been one of the most humbling moments of my career and I am so proud of all the team on this stunning sunny royal day.”
McCartney also dressed the mother of the bride, Doria Ragland, for the evening event. Ragland wore a scarlet long-sleeved dress in silk cady, nude alter suede sandals and a metallic box clutch. Amal Clooney, meanwhile, wore a bright mustard ensemble while Oprah Winfrey donned a blush dress with lace trim by the designer for the service at St. George’s Chapel (where Ragland wore a dress by Oscar de la Renta).
Who even needs a fashion show after that kind of exposure?
Cartier, too, garnered the spotlight at a pivotal time for the company. Markle wore Cartier down the aisle and to the evening reception. She accessorized her wedding gown with small Galanterie de Cartier earrings made from white gold and diamonds and wore a Reflection de Cartier bracelet made from the same precious materials.
For the evening reception, she wore long Reflection de Cartier earrings, also made from white gold and diamonds.
Cartier, a Bond Street and royal family stalwart for generations, could easily leverage the royal publicity as the brand looks to capture a younger audience. The brand also dipped into the digital world last year, launching the latest iteration of its Panthère watch on Net-a-porter — and the debut was a success.
Cartier’s parent, Compagnie Financière Richemont, is becoming the sole owner of Yoox Net-a-porter Group and has made no secret of its intentions to embrace the online channel for its hard luxury brands.
This is only the start of the “Meghan economy.” Like so many modern-day newlyweds, the couple isn’t going on honeymoon immediately. They’ll be back to work on Tuesday, attending an engagement for Prince Charles at Buckingham Palace. No doubt the new duchess — and her dress and accessories — will be a keen focus of attention.