TORONTO – Bojana Sentaler is quickly learning just what it means to feel the full force of the “Kate effect.”
Barely 24 hours after the Duchess of Cambridge appeared in a coat by the Toronto-based fashion designer, the grey alpaca garment and many others from the Sentaler brand sold out online, with orders coming in from around the world.
“It was incredible,” said the 31-year-old Sentaler, whose eponymous brand features luxury outerwear. “The Kate effect, for my brand, was an instant brand awareness around the entire world.”
Kate and Prince William, along with their two young children, are currently on a week-long visit to British Columbia and Yukon. The outfits worn by the duchess have been closely tracked by royal watchers and fashion enthusiasts.
Speculation has swirled over whether she would opt for any homegrown designs. It happened Wednesday in Carcross, Yukon, when Kate appeared in the Sentaler wrap coat, giving the Canadian brand — which launched in 2009 — an immediate boost.
“At first I thought it was a joke and then I went on Twitter and I saw the picture,” said Sentaler, who first learned of her coat being worn when someone tagged her brand on social media. “I feel extremely blessed and honoured that she chose to wear my coat during her Canadian tour.”
While seeing Kate in the coat was a surprise, Sentaler had been quietly hoping the royal might showcase one of her designs.
Her brand had been contacted by someone she later believed was the stylist for the duchess, although there was never any official indication one of her coats was being purchased for Kate.
“We got an email asking ‘do you ship to the U.K.’ so we thought it was a customer and we said yes, of course … there was nothing that gave away that it was for Kate or anyone in the Buckingham Palace,” Sentaler explained. “It was only after we kind of put two and two together, we looked up her name on the Internet and realized it was Kate Middleton’s stylist.”
With her brand now being mentioned in global reports about the fashion choices of the duchess, Sentaler hopes the recognition that comes with the Kate effect will help her brand as it tries to expand in international markets.
“A lot of retailers that we will be wanting to talk to will now know the brand, we won’t have to introduce it,” she said. “Also, customers are more likely to buy now because they know the brand.”
Sentaler isn’t the only Canadian brand benefiting from the royal touch.
Shelley Macdonald, a jewellery designer living in Whitehorse, says earrings she designed were worn by Kate in Yukon, leading to a “significant amount” of orders.
For a Canadian brand in particular, being chosen by Kate is a boon in a wildly competitive international market, said Sentaler.
“It’s very hard to be recognized or even be noticed amongst all the other amazing brands that are out there,” she said. “When something like this happens… it just speeds everything up. So rather than waiting a couple of years for everybody to find out about your brand, everybody can find out about your brand just by the duchess herself wearing my coat.”
Canadian style expert Jeanne Beker agreed.
“Our designers don’t have those international marketing budgets that their American and European counterparts have for the most part,” she explained. “Any time you can get an international figure of that profile and magnitude and calibre strutting something Canadian, the whole industry I think is just buoyed.”