July 26th, 2013
01:07 PM ET

Could Prince George of Cambridge be bad for the fashion business?

While this week has been a joyous and momentous occasion for royal watchers around the World, the arrival of His Royal Highness Prince George of Cambridge may be somewhat of a letdown for the fashion industry.

The Duchess of Cambridge is known for wearing a mix of reasonably priced “High Street” brands like Zara, Topshop and Reiss, combined with couture fashions by design houses such as Alexander McQueen, Jenny Packham and Issa. When she makes an appearance, her entire outfit frequently sells out instantly online. She’s become such an icon that the fashion industry has come to refer to the trend as ‘the Kate effect.’

In the fashion world, Kate Middleton’s baby was expected to follow her success. But it seems many were betting on a princess instead of a prince. Will the future King of England be less valuable to retailers?

“[If] Prince [George] was a princess, it would have created a greater impact on kids apparel, ” Marshal Cohen, Chief Industry Analyst at NPD Group, Inc, tells OutFront. “In the U.S., girls apparel makes up 53% of the sales even though they don’t make up 53% of the kids population. The girls market for apparel is 10% greater than the boys market in dollar volume.”

WWD Senior Editor Sharon Edelson agrees, adding, “While a boy has given England much to cheer about, a royal baby girl would have inspired countless opportunities for dresses, jewelry and accessories.”

Still, some believe Prince George will actually give ‘the Kate effect’ a boost. They say the Duchess’ increased likability as a mum could make up for any disappointing baby prince sales.

That includes Stellene Volandes, Style Director at Town&Country who explains to OutFront: “More likely, Kate's fashion profile will just get larger. What will she wear to the christening, to nursery school drop off, on play dates? Diana having two boys didn't seem to negatively impact fashion sales in any way; instead, it allowed the public to really focus in on her and every Fair Isle sweater, Hunter boot, pearl choker, or black velvet ball gown…”

Even though Prince George’s duds may not match the retail hype that a little Princess would bring, his birth is already contributing to London’s economy. “The impact of the royal birth can't be underestimated,” says Edelson. “Economists have said it can only have a positive effect on sales of memorabilia, which could even top the royal wedding, at around $370 million.”

Susan Kelley, founder of the blog What Kate Wore, tracks Kate’s wardrobe choices almost painstakingly at nearly every single public appearance. She points out the baby could increase sales of products that aren't gender specific.

“If sales of the two blankets we saw Prince George wrapped in are an indicator, then I wouldn't expect any deleterious impact…Both U.S.-based Aden & Anais, along with England's GH Hurt, have to be ecstatic that the future monarch was swaddled in their blankets for his first outing, even if it was only for a few steps from the hospital door to a waiting car. I believe we will continue to see an enormous interest in anything royal-related. Kate, and now the young Prince, will prove trendsetters for the foreseeable future.”

Keep Calm and Carry On!

As soon as Prince George is out of diapers and starts entertaining female callers, his lady friends could stand to give the fashion industry a boost. According to Volandes, “Just think of the endless supply of fashion inspiration and sales-boosting paparazzi pictures we'll get from George Alexander Louis’ endless parade of girlfriends, his fiancé and then his bride!”

Follow Jessica Reinis on Twitter: @JessicaReinis

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