First it was the “Kate Effect” and then Meghan Markle added her own “Markle Effect” to the royal lexicon when products she was wearing started selling out instantaneously and giving major boosts to small businesses around the globe in the process.
In January 2018, the now-Duchess of Sussex was just recently engaged to Prince Harry when the pair paid a visit to Cardiff, Wales. Clad in a memorable bow-adorned Stella McCartney coat, velvet Tabitha Simmons booties and a DeMellier London Venice bag, it was actually the former Suits actress’ simple black skinny jeans that became an immediate sensation.
A nod to the country she was visiting, Markle opted to wear the Dina jean by local Welsh brand Hiut Denim. Retailing for about $240, the high-waisted, five-pocket design features the company’s weighty stretch denim from Candiani, Italy, and the classic style is perfect for dressing up (a la the Duchess, who ultimately removed her overcoat to reveal an off-the-shoulder plaid Theory top) or down.
Clearly the rest of the world took note of the pants’ versatility because the Dina jean quickly sold out and racked up a lengthy waitlist. Hiut Denim co-founder David Hieatt told the Daily Mail at the time that the website “went absolutely crazy” that day.
“We have a backorder waiting list for three months,” he said. “We are having two more people in and we’re moving to a new factory. The effect has been remarkable.”
More than a year later, there is still a regular waitlist for the most popular sizes and inseams (the jean comes in 28-, 30- and 31-inch options), and on Tuesday, March 5, Hieatt and his wife Clare had a chance to reunite with the women who set off the craze.
The couple was invited to Buckingham Palace for a reception to mark the 50th anniversary of the investiture of Prince Charles (i.e. the Prince of Wales), and the brand tweeted that its founders had a lovely conversation with Harry and Meghan at the event about the work they’ve done locally to revitalize the community and improve the environmental friendliness of their designs. According the brand’s website, Hiut Denim set up shop in the tiny town of Cardigan, Wales, after a major jean manufacturing plant closed down, and its team now makes about 100 pairs of premium denim a week.
As we entered Buckingham Palace this morning, we were told The Duke and The Duchess of Sussex wanted to meet us. Eek. And breathe. We talked about how to lessen the impact of denim on the planet.
— Hiut Denim Co (@hiutdenim) March 5, 2019
“As we entered Buckingham Palace this morning, we were told The Duke and The Duchess of Sussex wanted to meet us. Eek. And breathe,” the tweet quipped. “We talked about how to lessen the impact of denim on the planet.”
Hiut Denim is one of many companies that have been dramatically impacted by Duchesses Kate and Meghan’s fashion choices. And while the instant fame sometimes proves to be too much (Issa, the brand behind Kate Middleton‘s iconic sapphire blue engagement dress, actually shuttered after the international demand became too much for the small business), there is no denying the economic impact of the ladies’ royal style.