Fa­nat­ics who fol­low the Duchess’s ev­ery style move

As style sites ded­i­cated to the Duchess were shut down yes­ter­day, Bethan Holt meets the su­per­fans be­hind them

The Daily Telegraph - - Front page -

When the Duchess of Cam­bridge makes her first pub­lic ap­pear­ance since the an­nounce­ment of her preg­nancy next week – at­tend­ing a re­cep­tion cel­e­brat­ing World Men­tal Health Day at Buck­ing­ham Palace on Tues­day – most of us will pay at least a pass­ing in­ter­est in what she’s wear­ing.

But for a com­mu­nity of ded­i­cated women dot­ted across the globe, what­ever out­fit she chooses will prompt the start of a slav­ish search to find the per­fect “copy­kate” look.

As soon as the first pic­tures land, they will be­gin scour­ing ebay, swap­ping links to high street shops and even start sav­ing so that they can in­vest in the ex­act items which the Duchess wears. Wel­come to the rather odd world of the repli-kates.

“I be­gan rep­likat­ing [sic; apolo­gies] shortly after Wil­liam and Kate got en­gaged. I found a ver­sion of her en­gage­ment ring and wore it while I watched the royal wed­ding,” re­mem­bers Katie Kingston, a 34-year- old stay-at-home mother and former maths teacher from Canada who shows off her Duchess-match­ing style on her In­sta­gram ac­count @kate­copieskate and proudly owns 25 items worn by the Duchess .

“My first repli-kat­ing was for my wed­ding, only months after Wil­liam and Kate’s,” says 29-year-old Rachael, a teacher from Aus­tralia who runs @cam­bridge­mums with her friend Brooke, 26. “I rep­likated Kate’s hair­style and bou­quet.”

It’s not just on special oc­ca­sions, though, that the rep­likate crowd de­rive in­spi­ra­tion from the Duchess. For many of them, her el­e­gant style and poised pre­sen­ta­tion at pub­lic en­gage­ments ap­pear to in­form ev­ery sin­gle wardrobe choice.

“The style of the Duchess of Cam­bridge was re­ally a le­git­imi­sa­tion of my per­sonal style that was not al­ways ap­par­ent with the chang­ing na­ture of trends,” ex­plains Mal­lory Bowl­ing, a 29-year-old lawyer from Wash­ing­ton DC, who re­cently posted an image of her­self wear­ing the same Alice Tem­per­ley blouse which the Duchess wore for an ap­pear­ance on Ra­dio 1 ear­lier this year.

“It was a way that I could chan­nel the clothes I re­ally felt com­fort­able in – Bre­ton stripes, coloured denim, el­e­gant dresses, un­der­stated em­bel­lished blouses – with Kate serv­ing as an in­spi­ra­tion for how to source items I could not al­ways find on the high street.”

“I love how she has made it more pop­u­lar to dress in a more so­phis­ti­cated way than you will of­ten see with other celebri­ties,” en­thuses Stephanie, a 27-year-old op­er­a­tions man­ager who show­cases her finds on @bud­get_­duchess.

“Hers is the type of style that I want to en­cour­age my daugh­ter to wear, and show her it is pos­si­ble to dress ap­pro­pri­ately with­out look­ing stuffy or frumpy.” If this all sounds rather evan­gel­i­cal, well, that’s be­cause it is. This week, the rep­likate “fam­ily”, as some of them re­fer to them­selves, was thrown into dis­ar­ray when sev­eral of its mem­bers’ In­sta­gram ac­counts were closed with­out warn­ing or ex­pla­na­tion.

Hack­ers, In­sta­gram al­go­rithms and even in­ter­ven­tions from Kens­ing­ton Palace of­fi­cials have all been mooted as pos­si­ble causes for what they dubbed their per­se­cu­tion.

While the Duchess her­self has never di­rectly com­mented on the craze her style has prompted amongst women who, on the whole, are young wives and moth­ers like her­self, she can’t be un­aware of the “Kate ef­fect” which she sparks, whereby what­ever clothes she wears sell out within hours of her be­ing seen wear­ing them.

“We’ve been in­un­dated with or­ders and our web­site has now crashed,” de­signer Anita Don­gre told

The Tele­graph when Kate wore one of her dresses dur­ing a tour to In­dia last year. In­ci­den­tally, Rachael now owns the same dress and re­cently ad­vised the Duchess, in case she should be se­cretly spy­ing on her army of rep­likaters, that it makes an

‘I prob­a­bly spend half an hour a day scour­ing ebay and hop­ing to get lucky’

ex­cel­lent ma­ter­nity op­tion with the belt re­moved.

While some­times the Duchess seems to play the game, wear­ing pieces which are af­ford­able and still in stock, she has lately pre­ferred to com­mis­sion be­spoke items or or­der di­rectly from her favourite de­sign­ers, ahead of looks be­ing widely avail­able to buy – see the Er­dem, Emilia Wick­stead and Markus Lupfer out­fits which she de­buted dur­ing her re­cent tour to Ger­many and Poland.

Not that that will stop the rep­likates. For them, the thrill comes from scour­ing shops to find sim­i­lar but af­ford­able ver­sions of the Duchess’s out­fits as well as the real thing. “I prob­a­bly spend about half an hour each day scour­ing ebay and hop­ing to get lucky,” says Brooke.

“My favourite find ever has been a tar­tan cape from Zara. Kate wore it a few years ago while out and about when preg­nant with Ge­orge. I fi­nally found one on ebay re­cently and bought it straight away! I can’t be­lieve I own it, it has be­come a wardrobe sta­ple for win­ter.”

“My best find would have to be the DVF Ikat print dress [which Kate wore in Aus­tralia in 2014],” says Katie. “I found it for sale, in my size, on an ob­scure web­site... I had been look­ing for it for ages, and then I came across a girl sell­ing hers, brand new, with tags still on! I was so pleased!” When longed-for dis­cov­er­ies such as this oc­cur, con­grat­u­la­tory com­ments pour in from other rep­likaters.

“Other rep­likat­ing women will of­ten sell items to oth­ers be­cause we know it’s com­ing from or go­ing to a lov­ing home,” sug­gests Rachael.

“My favourite Kate pur­chase would have to be the Zim­mer­mann Day Roamer Dress. I saw Kate in Manly [Syd­ney] when she wore it and spent the next six weeks stalk­ing the web­site un­til it was avail­able for pur­chase. When­ever I wear it I feel like a Duchess!”

“Some peo­ple think my hobby is silly and a waste of time and money,” says Katie, with­out irony. “But every­one has their own in­ter­ests. I love fash­ion and so I choose to fol­low and copy some­one I find fash­ion­able and iconic. Not every­one has the same tastes, but when your men­tor does have the same taste as you, it’s so much more en­joy­able to watch them in the spot­light.”

It’s not just Kate who is get­ting the repli-treat­ment from the world’s royal style fans. “I love how she has been dress­ing Princess Char­lotte, and I have tried a few replichar­lottes for my daugh­ter,” says Stephanie. “Al­though not part of the Royal Fam­ily, I adore Pippa Mid­dle­ton’s style and have done a few replip­ip­pas as well.”

“We’ve bought lots of Prince Ge­orge’s pieces for our boys, par­tic­u­larly cute knits and polo shirts,” say Rachael and Brooke. “We of­ten get com­ments about how sweet their out­fits are – it’s not as com­mon for moth­ers here to dress their boys in cardi­gans and long socks with shorts.”

Mean­while, Mal­lory is at­tempt­ing to coin the term “replimegha­n” – and await­ing the arrival of the £528 bur­gundy leather biker jacket by Mack­age, which Markle wore to the open­ing cer­e­mony of the In­vic­tus Games last week.

Meghan-match­ers? Re-markles? What­ever they want to call them­selves, ex­pect to see an­other com­mu­nity of royal em­u­la­tors flour­ish if the ac­tress’s en­gage­ment to Prince Harry is an­nounced, as ex­pected, in com­ing months. Whether a lit­tle healthy com­pe­ti­tion will prompt the Duchess to take her style up a notch, though, re­mains to be seen.

‘Some peo­ple think my hobby is silly and a waste of time and money’

Style stalk­ers: clock­wise from top left – Rachael and Brooke, from @ cam­bridge­mums, both in Anita Don­gre; Stephanie from @bud­get_ duchess was in­spired by Kate’s Preen dress; and Brooke in her Hobbs frock

Any­thing you can do: Katie Kingston, from Canada, left, mod­els a Lasa Pop­pies dress on @kate­copieskate, and Rachael from Aus­tralia on @cam­bridge­mums tracked down the Duchess’s Ba­nana Re­pub­lic skirt

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