How The ‘Kate Effect’ Destroyed One Designer’s Brand

kate middleton

by Elizabeth Bennett |
Published on

There is no better exposure for a brand or designer than Kate Middleton personally endorsing one of your pieces. Ever since Kate was thrust into the spotlight when she began dating Prince William, her outfit choices have been poured over and endlessly copied. When Kate wears something, people want to buy it, and the so called ‘Kate Effect’ has caused numerous pieces - whether it’s Mulberry, LK Bennett or Zara - to sell out, almost instantly.

But for one designer, the ‘Kate Effect’ didn’t bring prosperity in the way you might imagine.

kate middleton

Cast your minds back to 2010 and Kate and William’s engagement announcement. Kate wore a royal blue wrap dress from a little known brand called Issa, and as the images of the couple were beamed around the world, phones at the London studio of designer, Daniella Helayel didn’t stop ringing. Neiman Marcus immediately places a 1,100 order, and celebrities including Scarlett Johansson, Keira Knightley and Jennifer Lopez went on to wear the label.

However, the brand disappeared a few years later, and in a new interview with The Daily Mail, Helayel has revealed how Kate’s famous Issa moment caused the brand serious trouble.

At the time of the Duchess’ engagement, Helayel had just 25 staff members and three pattern cutters and was "on the verge of financial crisis.” And Helayel has no warning that her design was to be worn on the world stage.

"We didn’t have a TV at the studio and this was pre-Instagram, but we soon knew Kate was wearing Issa because at four o’clock the phones began ringing and didn’t stop. It was bonkers," Helayel told The Daily Mail.

The dress sold out in five minutes and as the pre-orders rolled in, the trouble started.

"From the day of the royal engagement our sales doubled. I didn’t have the money to finance production on that scale. The bank refused to give me credit, and the factory was screaming for me to pay its bills. I needed an investor," Helayel explained.

Daniella Helayel at the 2011 Issa show

Although the brand did receive external investment and appointed a new CEO, the stress was too much for Helayel and she quit the business.

"I felt so stressed that my hair went white and started falling out. I was broken by the end of it. I had a great business, which I’d built up on my own over a decade. To watch it evaporate was heartbreaking,” Helayel said.

Nevertheless, after a two year break from designing and the fashion world, Helayel is back with a brand new line, Dhela.

kate middleton

We can’t wait to see more of what is to come.

READ MORE: Kate Middleton's Best Fashion Moments

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READ MORE: Every Time Kate Middleton Has Repeated An Outfit

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