Could the Royal Family help repair the retail sector? – Conservative Article
In an age where influencers pervade the tabloids and drive retail sales through their social media accounts, it is easy to forget the power of the Royal Family. The Royal Family are arguably the most successful of fashion influencers, driving retail sales significantly for a number of years. The effects of Kate, Meghan, and now even Princess Charlotte’s outfit selections are unparalleled, even during the pandemic. Post-pandemic this could be the key tool in the increase of sales among the retail sector both in the U.K and through international sales. They have the power to change the course of business for many fashion brands.
The first to lead the retail phenomenon is Kate Middleton. The Duchess of Cambridge has been integral to the growth of many retail brands simply just by wearing their clothing. Kate’s relationship with the brand Reiss is a perfect example of her influence over consumers of retail. In her official engagement portraits, Kate wore Reiss’s “Nannette dress” causing the dress to sell out after Reiss re-released it due to customer demand. Following that, when Kate wore Reiss’s “Shola dress” upon meeting the Obamas, there was “a surge in web traffic [which] caused the website to crash for two-and-a-half hours; it sold out as soon as service was resumed”. Yes, influencer culture certainly increases spending within retail, however, Reiss has made it abundantly clear that “in the case of Kate the impact has been especially significant”.
Even during the pandemic, the “Kate Effect” has been in full swing. Despite the financial uncertainty during March 2020 in the U.K, a study conducted by Love The Sales which was based on google searches, page views, and sales figures taken from a database of over four billion U.K shoppers, showed that searches for Kate’s looks went up over 80 percent. Even during her appearances on Zoom calls, Kate’s influence on consumers did not rest. After appearing with Prince William in a mustard yellow jumper from Zara, searches for “mustard colour tops” increased by 41 percent globally.
In a time of such financial uncertainty, to have the power to drive spending in such a significant way is simply unheard of.
Both Kate Middleton and Meghan Markle have had a large impact on the retail sector. Various companies have even named their products after them. The “Meghan Markle Sparkle” has driven spending in the retail sector significantly over the years. This continues to display the influence of the Royal Family over our economy nationally and internationally. The Line coat worn by Meghan during her engagement photos was renamed “The Meghan”, presenting the intrinsic relationship between the Royal Family and the retail sector. Kate has had a series of retail products named after her too, including the Merci Maman necklace which is marketed as “The Duchess Necklace”.
Kate and Meghan have built a relationship with the brand Sentler through wearing their iconic wrap coats with ribbed sleeves, drawing more attention to their trademark detail. As a result, they have “solidified Sentler’s recognition on an international scale.” Such relationships could be integral to the growth of retail sales and fashion brands as we exit the pandemic and aspire toward financial growth. If Kate and Meghan can have such an impact on retail pre and during the pandemic. It is incredibly exciting to consider what their influence could do for the economy as people become eager to spend again.
The newest Royal Family member to join the Royal Effect is Kate’s daughter, Princess Charlotte. The 6-year-old has had a tremendous impact on the U.K economy due to her influential outfits. She has sparked the phenomenon “The Charlotte Effect”, driving her estimated net worth to £3.8 billion. This is significantly higher than her brother George’s estimated net worth which falls at £2.7 billion. Charlotte’s impact on the economy is worth over £1 billion more than her brother’s due to the public’s interest in what she is wearing. In fact, “1 in every 5 parents considers the princess a style icon for their own children.”
After Kensington Palace released a photograph of Charlotte wearing a pastel yellow cardigan from John Lewis, the product sold out completely. The garment which cost £18 was in such high demand that people were selling it for up to £60 on eBay.
Charlotte is only 6 years old and she is driving more sales than the average fashion influencer on Instagram.
As we exit lockdown and begin to work on building the economy back up, the Royal Family may be the people we can turn to when looking to repair the retail sector. Consumers are undeniably fascinated by the Royal Family. Maybe they have a lot more to offer than people seem to make out?
Written by Senior Conservative Writer, Rebecca Selt
Point of Information
The Royal Family’s Influence on Retail is Important but Limited – A Liberal Response
It is undeniable that Kate, Megan, Charlotte, and especially Diana before them, have considerable cultural capital. As Rebecca aptly shows through the use of sale figures, royals have room to influence retail after the pandemic. But not to repair it.
Much like with influencers and trends, the mad clothing sales on certain products from certain stores will be ephemeral. Ultimately, it will be part of a passing fad.
True, some fashion retailers will profit in the short term. John Lewis in particular has had a rough year, and sales of Charlotte’s pastel yellow cardigan could give the business some much-needed cash. However, it is unlikely to save a store, let alone the sector.
To do so, significant levels of products across a store would have to fly off of the shelves at a constant rate. Given how small profit margins are in retail, and how much retail has struggled, a majority of products would need to sell out. If the royals were to do this alone, it could be argued that they would generate sales for retail businesses. However, this will not happen.
It would be impossible to ask the royals to buy a majority of what John Lewis, for example, puts on sale in the hopes of advertising it. The selectivity of choosing a certain item from a certain shop for a limited time is what adds to the craze around it. If all items from certain businesses were to be consistently advertised, the novelty would wear off. And so would the sales generated by initial royal influence.
Royal influence ultimately has less of an impact on the struggling, low-cost businesses which fuel the everyday retail sector. As Rebecca has shown, royal influence can increase demand exponentially for high-quality clothes. It also inflates the cost of already expensive items. In particular, luxury retailers are poised to succeed from this, given the high mark-ups on their goods already. In contrast, less expensive retailers with lower mark-ups, such as John Lewis and Reiss, will need substantial levels of influence. As I have argued, this is almost impossible to gain.
For upcoming non-luxury retailers then, royal influence is relatively redundant. Where will their regeneration come from?
Royals will not be the saving grace of the retail sector. State-sponsored spending will. If we can get behind programs such as UBI, we can reap the rewards of a post-pandemic boom. This will ensure consistent spending in a multitude of retail businesses. Royals can influence what we buy for our Sunday best, but UBI will cover the rest.
Written by Chief Liberal Writer, Frank Allen
Rebecca’s neglected the real issues – A Labour Response
Looking at the statistics Rebecca gives, it is hard to deny the extensive influence of the royal family – particularly on our wardrobes. What’s neglected however are the other undeniable influences. The Royal Family, believe it or not, do not hold enough power for all of us to start dressing like Kate and Meghan. In fact, there are a few problems with this assertion.
Looking first at other influences, the first that comes to mind are ‘Instagram influencers’ and the use of social media. Social media is full of clothing ads and deals through the brands themselves and influencers. Young people especially won’t go a day without seeing at least one clothing ad on social media. And it works. People aspire to be and look like these people. Influencer culture is arguably much more successful than the royal family’s influence; they are ten times more relatable than Kate Middleton and their fashion is more accessible. And with brands increasingly recognising this, like In The Style who continuously collaborate with influencers to sell their products, social media influencing is gaining more momentum.
But why are we discussing this topic in the first place? It’s no secret that the royal family and social media have influence over what we buy.
We should instead focus on the issues surrounding this. Firstly, there are gender equality concerns around why we care considerably more about the way women dress than men. This occurred too often when Theresa May was Prime Minister – there was so much discussion surrounding her shoes in particular.
Another very real issue is the climate emergency. Rebecca is right to say consumers are fascinated by the royal family, and any other external influences like this. But we shouldn’t be trying to influence consumerism; it has a growing negative impact on the environment. Instead, we should be aiming to move away from excessive garment production and the possession of items for status alone.
I guess Rebecca is right – the Royal Family do have a great deal of influence over us and our wardrobes. But, for me at least, there are a number of more important issues to focus on.
Written by Chief Labour Writer, Abi Clargo