Jigsaw, the British fashion chain which once employed the then Kate Middleton and the present Duchess of Cambridge, is hoping that a bit of her ‘royal magic’ rubs off on it.
Jigsaw fashion brand owners Val and John Robinson, who are family friends of the Middletons and even had the latter’s daughter as their staff member, are currently going through a major revamp.
To give the brand a princess appeal and experience the famed ‘Kate effect’ noticeable in various parts of the retail segment, Jigsaw has taken on board Barbara Horspool, a former creative director at Marks & Spencer.
In 2006, when Kate Middleton was employed at Jigsaw, she was described as a walking advert for the fashion brand, as she would regularly wear their cardigans, floral print skirts and dresses.
So now if the Duchess of Cambridge decides to wear Jigsaw's clothes, which she rarely does, the ailing company can expect a massive spurt in their sales. It may be noted Duchess Kate just by wearing the high street brand Reiss caused its profits to double last year.
Check: Duchess in Reiss brand
Similarly, the Duchess after wearing Russell & Bromley Zipkin style knee-high boots (Pic) resulted in a whopping 663 per cent rise in sales for the footwear brand. Kate Middleton, is infact, credited with pumping up Britain's tottering economy by an astounding £1bn, states Mintel.
Such is the power of the ‘Kate effect’ that any outfit she chooses to wear flies off the shelf within days, and sometimes barely minutes. A fashion insider said: "It's noticeable that Kate used to work for Jigsaw but never wears their clothes. So this could be described as a Get Kate operation."
Detractors of the Jigsaw opine that it is no longer the fashion brand it used to be five years back and has become stale and outdated. But Karen Kay, fashion commentator and royal observer, thinks it’s ironic considering the fact that the Jigsaw owners are Middleton’s family friends.
Kay says: “I think it's the perfect brand for Kate at the moment. Jigsaw has well-made, nicely cut working-wardrobe clothes. They are perfect for her lifestyle. I'm surprised we don't see her in more of their clothes. The brand needs to re-excite their customers – it's like being in a long marriage – but if they aim for a younger customer they will alienate the Kates of this world."
Kay believes the ‘Kate effect’ makes Duchess Catherine "more than the Diana of her day". According to her Princess Diana was seen more in couture, whereas “Kate has made royal fashion accessible to everyone."
Giving credit to royal websites online, Kay says, with blogs giving updates on Duchess Kate outfits at royal engagements on a daily basis, has resulted in dresses being sold out almost instantly after being worn by the Duchess.
Meanwhile, a spokesman for the Brand Consultancy Adrian Day agrees that the power of Duchess of Cambridge’s endorsement cannot be overestimated. He says: "We see a four to seven-fold increase in sales … For little-known makes; the effect can be much more. (However) the better known the brand, the lesser the effect."
However, its not just the fashion arena that the Duchess has had an impact on, even St Andrews University where she and Prince William studied has become much more popular. According to Poppy Dinsey founder of ‘What I Wore Today’ (WIWT) Catherine always looks terrific and is a great ‘fashion inspiration’ for people decades older to her.
“People really respect her clothes considering her brief: she is a classy role model, and I think everyone wants her hair. She doesn't need to be wearing high-street brands, so does amazing work for the British high street,” opines Poppy.
Further Poppy says: "With the outfits she wears, she opens people's eyes to the style and quality, so Jigsaw would be a perfect English heritage brand. But I wouldn't want to wear her clothes. I struggle to know who is buying the clothes she wears – perhaps people who work in the City and need to look smart every day."