Could the 'Kate Middleton effect' be ruining fashion brands?

‘I had a great business, which I’d built up on my own over a decade. To watch it evaporate was heartbreaking.’

‘I had a great business, which I’d built up on my own over a decade. To watch it evaporate was heartbreaking.’

You would think it would be any fashion designer's dream to have a Royal, especially Kate Middleton, wearing their clothes. It is proven that if Kate gets behind something it will sell and in terms of fashion, there’s no one better to endorse your brand.

The Duchess of Cambridge has a very strong influence, known as the Kate Middleton effect, whereby her royal seal of approval can make pieces sell out in minutes and turn small British businesses into internationally renowned brands.

It has recently emerged, however, that the Kate Middleton effect might actually be a little too powerful, overwhelming small businesses, with the designer behind Kate’s engagement dress opening up about how the attention caused her 10 year old business to collapse.

Daniella Helayel, founder of the British fashion label, Issa London, designed the blue silk-jersey wrap dress that Kate wore when announcing her engagement to Prince William back in 2010. Just five years later, the fashion brand had closed.

Kate Middleton effect

‘Issa was a niche brand,’ the designer recently explained to the Daily Mail. ‘We had a loyal following, but in 2008 and 2009 we were in serious financial trouble. When Kate wore that dress everything changed.’

With just 25 staff members and three pattern cutters, Helayel explained how the brand was unaware that Kate was going to be wearing Issa London until it had happened, prompting the phones to ring off the hook, with the dress becoming an overnight sensation, selling out in over 43 countries in 24 hours.

With a mounting demand for reorders, the brand struggled to keep up with the sudden and unprecedented popularity, unable to afford the production of her clothes on such a vast scale.

'The bank refused to give me credit, and the factory was screaming for me to pay its bills’, she explained. 'I left because I couldn't take any more. I felt so stressed that my hair went white and started falling out. I was broken by the end of it.’

She continued: ‘I had a great business, which I'd built up on my own over a decade. To watch it evaporate was heartbreaking. I took two years out and didn't design a thing. It was too painful.’

After two years away, Daniela Helayel is back, just recently launching her new brand, Dhela.

Jenny Proudfoot
Features Editor

Jenny Proudfoot is an award-winning journalist, specialising in lifestyle, culture, entertainment, international development and politics. She has worked at Marie Claire UK for seven years, rising from intern to Features Editor and is now the most published Marie Claire writer of all time. She was made a 30 under 30 award-winner last year and named a rising star in journalism by the Professional Publishers Association.