Business

NYC Retailers Experiencing, Embracing The ‘Kate Middleton Effect’

The Future Princess' Wardrobe Bringing Big Business To Local Boutiques
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(credit: AFP PHOTO / ADRIAN DENNIS WPA POOL)

(credit: AFP PHOTO / ADRIAN DENNIS WPA POOL)

Royalty Tribute

By Julie Parise, CBSNewYork.com

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — With all the anticipation and media hype surrounding Friday’s royal nuptials, it’s safe to assume there are probably some New Yorkers who are tired of hearing about Kate Middleton, Prince William and anything related to what many are calling “the wedding of the decade.”

But for some boutiques and fashion designers in New York City, the press frenzy surrounding the couple is the best thing that ever happened to them.

And you can bet they’re hoping it continues.

One of Middleton’s favorite brands, Reiss, has multiple locations in New York City – with a new 59th Street location on the way – but chances are you wouldn’t have known it before Prince William’s beau wore the line’s Nanette dress in her official engagement photos.

After Middleton sported the dress – an item from the designer’s 2008 line, a piece the future princess must have pulled from her own closet – the demand for the frock was so high, the store re-released it as part of their Spring 2011 collection.

And the residual effects for the company have been tremendous.

“You can’t put in monetary terms what she’s done for the brand,” said Davis Reiss, the store’s founder. “It’s been quite phenomenal.”

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Reiss has been quoted gushing, “We love Kate!”

And why wouldn’t he?

Reiss opened their first New York City location six years ago, but lacked a serious presence in New York City and the rest of the United States until the attractive, slender, brown-eyed girl from Berkshire, England,  caught young Prince William’s eye and was photographed in one of their dresses nearly a decade later.

A representative from the line’s Bleecker Street storefront told CBSNewYork that they’ve been “inundated” with requests for the Nanette dress, an effect that’s apparently being seen for the brand across the country.

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Kate Middleton wore a Reiss dress for her official engagement portrait, putting the designer on the map. (Credit: Mario Testion/Clarence House Press Office via Getty Images)

“We have seen high traffic demands on our Web site from all across the U.S. due to Kate wearing the dress,” said Laurie Marco, President of Reiss in the United States. “It has raised so much awareness for the brand in U.S. markets where we have no retail presence.”

Another New York City retailer is also welcoming new clients, from both the Big Apple and across the pond, thanks to Middleton Mania hitting the United States.

In her official engagement portrait, the bride-to-be donned a pair of earrings from high-end jewelry designer Links of London, a British-based company with locations on both Park and Madison Avenues.

Just after the photos were released, the demand for the Topaz Hope Egg earrings – which cost just under $500 – became so great, an international waiting list had to be created for the item.

Naomi Mansbach, marketing manager for the United States Links of London stores, said new customers have been coming into both the Madison Ave and Park Ave locations, asking specifically for the Kate Middleton earrings. It was also reported that there was a fight between two clients at one of the New York City shops over the last pair.

And with supplies of the jewels depleted over in England, a representative from the Links of London Madison Avenue storefront told CBSNewYork that they’ve had British clients come to them looking for the earrings.

“After people found out that she was wearing them, it definitely had a huge, positive effect [on sales],” said Mansbach, who added that both Prince William and his bride-to-be have been spotted shopping at the London stores recently.

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Kate Middleton donning a blue dress by London-based designer, Issa. (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth, File)

Last week, a seemingly much slimmer Middleton stepped out onto the streets of London for a day of shopping, wearing a simple black wrap dress by British designer Issa. It’s the same designer she chose to wear when she and Prince William announced their engagement at St. James Palace last November.

And surprise, surprise: Since the engagement was  announced, interest in the Issa brand skyrocketed.

“Since the announcement of the royal engagement we have been inundated with requests regarding Issa,” British retailer Harvey Nichols’ buying director Averyl Oates said.

Retailers like Target couldn’t produce knock-offs of the shimmery blue dress fast enough. For a short time, Target offered a $26 replica of the dress. But those sold out, too.

And same goes for her latest Issa number. As of right now, your chances of finding one for purchase – online or in the store – are about equal to your chances of scoring an invite to the wedding itself.

Julie Parise is the features editor for CBSNewYork.com.

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