New hope for Meghan’s $199 Aussie must-have
She is one of the most influential fashion icons-of-the-moment and whatever she wears typically sells out in a phenomenon dubbed the 'Meghan effect'.
So when Meghan Markle wore - and rewore - a pair of go-to skinny-legged jeans, the world took notice. And it turned out, they were Australian.
After the Duchess of Sussex sported Outland Denim's now-iconic "Harriet" style multiple times over the past 12 months (in "black" and "pacific" hues), demand for the wardrobe staple has surged, bringing global attention to the socially-conscious label.
Outland Denim first made headlines when the former Suits star wore them in Dubbo, then several other times, during her Australian tour last year, and again at Wimbledon, prompting the style to sell out within 24 hours.
The royal's approval resulted in a 640 per cent surge in sales, and a six month-long wait list, according to Outland Denim founder James Bartle.
The Duchess was believed to have purchased the jeans via her styling team, resulting in a "huge" spike in demand when she was snapped in full royal mode wearing the Harriet Jeans.
"There is some royal protocol over that (purchasing) - it wasn't through the brand," Bartle told News Corp Australia.
"I think it was predominately from her stylist and having come across (Outland) … and they were looking for the kinds of brands that she wants to represent.
"She wore the Harriet in black, which is our skinny high-rise.
"The result of her wearing that meant we sold out of that jean in 24 hours then we had a six month waiting list for people who were pre-purchasing the product.
"It was insane the amount of impact she has and the influence on what people want to purchase."
Markle often supports Australian designers, having worn outfits by Zimmermann, Dion Lee, Karen Gee, Oroton, Martin Grant and camilla and marc. But unlike labels purely focused on fashion, it was Outland's social consciousness that caught the Duchess's attention.
While Outland has no formal partnership with the royal, Bartle said the brand is keen to collaborate with her along the lines of the capsule collection she designed for UK charity, Smart Works.
"We were actually quite surprised when she wore the product and the impact of what followed," Bartle said.
"I'm told she work them about six times in Australia, she was tagged at Wimbledon, and possibly in South Africa."
Outland Denim was founded six years ago in the Gold Coast hinterland, with its manufacturing headquarters located in Cambodia, where has 100 employees.
With an A+ score from the World Aid Ethical Fashion Report, Outland's Cambodian operation employs women from vulnerable backgrounds as seamstresses, cutters and pattern makers, some of which were victims of human trafficking, with a #zeroexplotation policy.
"It completely changes their lives in that we equip them with everything they need to successful themselves, versus a dependency on our business," Bartle said.
"One of our first employees was able to build a home for her family who were living under a plastic sheet (and) purchased her sister back from a man who owned her. She now has a little girl of her own, it is life-changing."
Staff are trained in all aspects of the garment manufacturing process, with a focus on empowerment and career progression.
"Previously they would be used to making just a pocket and that would be all they'd do … with us, they can make the entire jean," Bartle said.
"It's a massive change in being able to produce the full product. They might move into management roles, run a team, become a section leader. Over the years, it's about career progression if they want that."
"We never isolate them into, 'you're from this (background), you're from that', other than we employ people from a range of (vulnerable) backgrounds … and they can't succeed without this next step: life skills, education, training, it's that stuff that gives them the freedom to be successful."
So why was the Duchess of Sussex's approval so important to Outland Denim becoming one of the most in-demand denim labels in fashion?
"We weren't just seeing the glossiness, we were seeing this genuine woman," Bartle said.
"There's this whole other side to it where she's changing history … I think that's something we admire and want to be involved with, on some level.
"We've never been the brand that's tried to angle for celebrity endorsements - everything that's happened has been genuine and organic.
"There's not been a lot of strategy around those kinds of things. As far as the impact she's had on our brand, we'd love to continue the relationship."
'SOLD OUT': STYLE STAR
From Miu Miu to Givenchy, and J. Crew to Goat - whatever she wears sells out almost immediately, with her influence termed the "Meghan effect".
The Duchess of Sussex usually favours structured blazers and coats, clean-cut basics and form-fitting dresses.
While she is known to support socially-conscious labels, the Duchess has expensive taste and once wore $32,000 worth of clothes and accessories in a matter of hours, during a day of back-to-back royal engagements.
But there's one piece of Australian-designed clothing not even Meghan Markle could get - a $455 "Behati" blazer by local "it" label Aje.
The Duchess of Sussex's team requested the linen jacket for her royal tour of Australia late last year … but it had already sold out.
"It was our Behati blazer in black," Aje designer Edwina Forest previously told News Corp Australia.
"It's a piece we try to carry every season but it just happens sometimes, it was sold out and we have to pre-order it ourselves.
"This was just one of those unfortunate moments."