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With our apologies to all the other news happening right now, this Monday belongs to Meghan Markle, the American actress who, as of this morning, is officially Prince Harry’s fiancée. As is tradition, the couple made the engagement announcement at Kensington Palace in front of a crowd of eager journalists and photographers and, sartorially at least, Markle seemed to followed the Kate Middleton playbook: fresh blowout, elegant belted coat, jewel-tone dress, and high-but-not-too-high heels. Her choice of designers, however, reflected her recent life on the other side of the Atlantic — the coat was by Toronto-based Line, while her earrings were by stalwart Canadian jeweler Birks, both brands she likely shopped during the seven years she lived in Toronto filming USA Network’s Suits.
Not that the whole outfit was an homage to the Great White North, though; the dress and pumps were by Italian labels P.A.R.O.S.H. and Aquazzura, respectively. But Markle, who was born in Los Angeles, has made a habit of supporting designers from her adopted home, wearing Aritzia to September’s Invictus Games in Toronto, Smythe while shopping in London on Black Friday, and Soia & Kyo on the set of Suits. The buzz around the impending wedding, which the palace says will go down in spring 2018, means the soon-to-be royal will no doubt have even more eyes on her in the months to come. And if she’s anything like Middleton, this heightened scrutiny, while probably annoying, could be a serious boon to her favorite brands — unless, that is, they can’t keep up with the demand.
Issa London, the label behind Middleton’s engagement dress, sold out of the piece almost immediately after the photos were released and quickly saw its sales double, a phenomenon that came to be known as the “Kate effect” (soon followed by the “Prince George effect” and “Princess Charlotte effect” by the time the children were barely out of infanthood). In that case, unfortunately, the brand didn’t have the manufacturing capabilities or financing to support the frenzied demand and shuttered five years later, but others have thrived on the attention.
Will the “Meghan effect” be next? Sites have already reported that Line’s website crashed this morning (no surprise given it’s pretty bare-bones and doesn’t offer e-commerce), and would-be customers have taken to the label’s Instagram comments to beg for information on where to buy the coat, which doesn’t appear to be available online. As a whole, the Canadian fashion industry is fairly under-the-radar and tiny compared to its US counterpart. Its biggest players are those who have moved abroad, like Erdem in London and Tanya Taylor in New York, while smaller designers that operate out of cities like Toronto and Montreal tend to have a mostly local clientele. The international platform that a chic, somewhat-homegrown royal could provide could be a game-changer. Let’s hope the brands are ready for the spotlight.