Meghan Markle Went Out of Her Way to Wear Sustainable Fashion. Will Her Fans?
For her first royal tour through Australia, New Zealand, Fiji, and the Kingdom of Tonga, Meghan Markle attended 76 events and changed outfits multiple times a day. She wore shirt dresses, blazers, two pairs of sneakers, fitted jeans, and modern handbags—and most of it promptly sold out.
It’s not news, of course, that when Meghan Markle wears something, people buy it. But many of her looks this tour were created by sustainable fashion brands, meaning the companies do things like use safe chemicals and dyes, make sure fabrics can be recycled, and make efforts to be socially responsible when it comes to sourcing their materials and hiring.
It’s clear that Markle—or her stylist, who is rumored to be her close friend Jessica Mulroney—was strategic in selecting the looks. She wore a mix of local sustainable brands, like Maggie Marilyn and Outland denim, and old favorites, like Stella McCartney, who has long been committed to sustainability and using vegan materials. She also wore contemporary labels like Reformation, which prioritizes minimizing its environmental footprint and puts out a yearly sustainability report, and Rothys shoes, which are made from recycled plastic. And there’s been an immediate impact.
Markle wears Maggie Marlyn, a sustainable brand based in New Zealand.
Meghan Markle wearing Reformation.
Meghan wearing Rothys flats
Since the Duchess wore Outland Denim last month, the Australia-based brand says they've seen a 950% sales increase. The brand hires as seamstresses young women who were formerly enslaved or exploited, as well as local women at risk of falling into poverty. They prioritize paying employees living wages, as well as offering education programs. Thanks to the sales bump from Markle being well-photographed in her $195 skinny jeans six times during the tour, the brand says it’ll be able to hire between 15 and 30 seamstresses in its Cambodian production house.
Outland Denim saw a 950% sales increase after Markle wore these jeans.
“It is quite remarkable to think The Duchess of Sussex’s influence means more jobs almost immediately,”said Outland Denim founder, James Bartle, said in a release. “This means women will be able to earn a living wage, provide for their children in terms of nutrition, care and education, and will gain new skills and confidence in a positive workplace environment.”
When Markle wore a $225 quartz-toned structured saddle bag from Cuyana to board a plane at Sydney Airport, it sold out that day, and the black version sold out the following. There are more than 1,000 on the waitlist for the bag in the color Markle wore. Plus, the brand gained more than 1,500 followers on Instagram and saw 25 press mentions.
Cuyana’s saddle bag in quartz sold out the same day Markle carried it onto a plane in Sydney.
“I think her choices will help consumers see that there are ways for all of us to make a difference by seeing there are choices you can make, whether that’s wearing brands and products that are sustainable or wearing pieces multiple times,” says Shilpa Shah, the co-founder of Cuyana. Shah points out that her brand also thinks about the timelessness of the designs, in hopes that buyers will hold onto the items, thus reducing waste. “She seems to be conscious about rewearing things which sends a message that it’s not simply about wearing new products but choosing pieces that will last a long time.”
Shah explains Cuyana practices sustainability in “every layer of our business, from where we manufacture and produce.” The brand, for example, creates items in the same countries where they source materials, so by making bags in Italy from Italian leather, they’re eliminating the energy that goes into transportation.
Shah says Markle was gifted the bag from her makeup artist, Daniel Martin, who the brand has a partnership with. But it seems Markle is also going out of their way to find sustainable brands. The French footwear brand Veja tells ELLE they didn’t send Markle the the Esplar sneakers she was photographed wearing to a sailing event at the Invictus Games in Australia.
Markle wears sneakers by the French brand, Veja.
“The real thing that we are happy with is that it helped a lot of people knowing our project, the way we are producing, the ecological raw materials we use,” a spokesperson for the brand says in an email. “A lot of people contacted us through the social networks to learn more about the project, what is behind Veja.”
Those championing sustainable fashion hope that a Markle fan buying a pair of jeans she wears is just the first step.
“It is going to have such an impact, I know for sure, because she is such a role model to many in many different age categories,” says Tamara Tamara Zwart, Director of Textiles & Apparel, at Cradle to Cradle’s Products Innovation Institute, a non-profit that promotes sustainable manufacturing.
Her colleague Emma Williams, the Acting Head of Communications at Cradle to Cradle adds: “[Markle] is modeling those choices in a way that is inspiring consumers more broadly to make the same choices — if that’s to buy the same product, that’s fabulous and it’s my hope that it will also then inspire them to make other choices based on similar values.
"Maybe the gateway is to buy the same pair of jeans or shoes but ideally then that starts to become a practice.”
This story originally appeared on Townandcountrymag.com.
* Minor edits have been made by the Townandcountry.ph editors.