‘It was like winning fashion lotto’
IT was a fashion move that caught a small Mount Tamborine company unaware.
Meghan Markle, the Duchess of Sussex and wife of Prince Harry, wore a pair of Outland Denim jeans during a visit to Dubbo yesterday sending the fashion world into a storm.
It also propelled sales of the $199 skinny high-rise jeans through the roof, with Outland Denim selling out of the make of jeans, the Harriet, that the Duchess wore.
The result caught the small company by surprise, forcing founder James Bartle to cut short a visit to his Cambodian factory and rush home, weighing up a day in which his company went from a niche player to a global phenomenon.
"I think it really is like winning fashion lotto," he said of the Duchess' move which came as the company decided to push into the US and Canadian markets.
"We would normally sell about 10 pair a day through our online site and we have sold out of that line and sold a lot of other ones as well.
"We've got jeans out with PR agencies across the world who send them to celebrities to try.
"They're sending jeans out all time to stylists and I'm not even aware of when they send jeans out.
"Knowing she was coming to Australia every brand in the country was hoping to get some exposure.
"Meghan Markle, she's iconic and at end of the day aspirational in so many ways. Not just because she was an actor before marrying Harry but for the things she stands for.
"And she looks great in our jeans."
While the move may have put Outland Denim on the map, it also helped highlight the companies social justice credentials.
Mr Bartle, whose background was metal fabrication, founded the company after a chance encounter with an anti-trafficking group lead him to building a factory in Cambodia to give young women in the region a career.
Outland also sources ethically and environmentally sound materials for its products.
"Meghan Markle stands for women's rights and our brand stands for things she stands for so I guess that's why they chose us," Mr Bartle said.
"We're a pretty shy brand and we have never been about finding those opportunities and plastering them everywhere and I guess that's what so beautiful about this."
But for Mr Bartle the publicity and the resulting sales mean more than just an increased profile.
It means he can extend the staff at his Cambodian factory,
"With the results over last four hours we know we have to increase staff so we have 10 new opportunities in for workers in our factory and 10 more positions in our finishing room.
"It all helps us get vulnerable women the opportunity to build more prosperous and better lives."
The move also flattered Anna Pembroke, the Markle-esque Brisbanite who models the jeans for Outland Denim on their website.
"She's beautiful and she dresses very very well," she said.
"My booker from Viviens Model Management rang and told me because I work a lot with
Outland Denim and I'm quite close with them so I was excited to hear the news that a local brand has become international.
"They are a beautifully cut pair of jeans and I wear my outland denim everyday because they are so comfortable.
"She does look good in them but at least I got to wear them first."