When the Duchess of Sussex made a surprise cameo on the Kingfisher Bay Jetty on Queensland’s Fraser Island, it is likely her linen ensemble was designed to do more than help the mother-to-be brave the weather.
- Many of Meghan’s outfits have been from ethical or sustainable brands
- Fashion experts say it’s her way of showing her support for causes like sustainability and reducing exploitation
- They say her choice to re-wear a dress at the Invictus Games sends a message that you don’t need a new outfit for every occasion
It turns out, Meghan’s dress was quite the ethical ensemble — a design by American brand Reformation, which claims to have “sustainability at the core of everything we do”.
And it was not just a one-off.
Clare Press is Vogue’s world-first sustainability editor and said she believed Meghan had been very calculated with her fashion choices on her Australian tour.
“I don’t think that’s by accident, or if it is, it’s a happy one,” Ms Press said.
“Meghan has proved herself an ethical fashionista — she doesn’t have to speak, she’s leaving her clothes to speak.”
An ethical Queensland brand was also given the Royal nod from the Duchess in Dubbo in New South Wales, when she stepped out in a pair of Outland denim jeans.
The company’s website claims to “know each of our seamstresses by name”, employing survivors of the sex trafficking industry in Cambodia.
The brand’s founder, James Bartle, from the Gold Coast hinterland, told Vogue: “A Royal endorsement is hugely uplifting for our staff, particularly the women in Cambodia.”
When Meghan stepped out in Dubbo in a pair of Gold Coast-designed, ethically sourced Outland jeans. (ABC Western Plains: Claudia Jambor)
Ms Press said she thought Meghan must have done it on purpose.
“The attention that has come in internationally and domestically from Meghan sporting their jeans is going to mean they can employ more women,” Ms Press said.
“I’d love to know who her stylist is — someone’s out there saying, ‘Let’s make this trip the sustainable fashion trip’.”
It is likely all the decisions have been a collaboration between Meghan and her long-time friend and stylist Jessica Mulroney, who is travelling with the Duchess and Prince Harry.
Meghan ‘sending a message’
Dr Emily Brayshaw, a lecturer in fashion and sustainability at the University of Technology in Sydney, said the pair would be very conscious of the social impact of Meghan’s style choices.
“She was an actress before she married Harry — she’s very aware of the importance of style and dress and also of the messages that these communicate,” Dr Brayshaw said.
“She’s closed down her personal blog, so it’s a different way of sending a message — this is a way she can show and demonstrate her support for ethical and sustainable issues.”
Clare Press says Meghan has been very calculated with her fashion choices on her Australian tour. (Twitter: Clare Press)
It is not a new agenda for the Duchess of Sussex, who chose to wear a Stella McCartney dress at her wedding — the UK designer famous for her eco and animal-friendly approach to production.
At this week’s Invictus Games opening ceremony in Sydney, Meghan recycled another dress from the UK designer, the same ensemble she wore in April at the Queen’s Birthday Concert at Royal Albert Hall.
Dr Brayshaw said it was giving royal copycats permission to go “shopping in our own wardrobes” and re-wear what they already had at home.
“There’s a real focus on buying clothes — wearing it for the gram [Instagram] — and we can’t be seen in the same outfit twice,” Dr Brayshaw said.
“By the Royals doing this, it shows us that we don’t need to buy a complete new outfit for every occasion.”
Footwear aims to reduce carbon footprint
The message has been extended with Meghan’s fancy footwear in Australia, working to reduce her carbon footprint.
Meghan’s sneakers worn on Sydney Harbour were from French sneaker brand Veja, which sources wild rubber from the Amazonian rainforest and invests in ethical production, instead of advertising.
Meghan wears shoes made entirely from recycled plastic water bottles while in Melbourne with Prince Harry. (AAP: William West)
“Their solution was to keep their pricing similar to comparable trainers in the market, but not to advertise,” Ms Press said.
“For someone like Meghan to give them free advertising by wearing the sneakers on Sydney Harbour was a good moment — it brings it hurtling into the mainstream.”
Meghan was also spotted in a pair of ballet flats by Rothy’s more than once on the Royal tour to date.
Other than points for practicality, the shoes are all made entirely from recycled plastic water bottles.