Exclusive: How Kate Middleton’s iconic red carpet dress caused a fashion revolution

Rental platforms are rapidly revolutionising the fashion industry, changing the narrative of fast fashion and throwaway culture by shifting consumers away from the idea that it’s cool to wear something once, snap it for Instagram, and then throw it away.

SEE: Kate Middleton’s most popular dress to rent revealed – and it costs way less than you think

At the forefront of this change is Front Row, London’s premier luxury rental service that stocks everything from vintage Chanel to eclectic Zimmerman – and they even have the Duchess of Cambridge‘s iconic Roland Mouret off-the-shoulder gown she memorably wore to the Top Gun premiere.

WATCH: Kate Middleton’s movie star moment at the Top Gun premiere

HELLO! sat down with Shika Bodani, Founder of Front Row, to chat about the future of sustainable fashion, what happened when a client rented the same dress as the Duchess of Cambridge, and how the ‘Kate effect’ has impacted her business.

You stock Duchess Kate’s iconic Roland Mouret dress, have you experienced the ‘Kate effect’ since she wore it?

“We truly struck gold when The Duchess of Cambridge wore the Roland Mouret,” says Shika. “The Duchess actually altered the back of her dress to make it slightly more modest for her red carpet appearance, whereas we stock the original. But since she stepped out in it, it’s resulted in such a huge spike for us,” she continued.

The Duchess’ iconic dress was altered to make it more modest

“We’ve had endless rental enquiries since Kate wore the Roland Mouret, but more so, people just want to purchase it. She’s such a fashion icon – so it makes sense!”

Platforms like Front Row make it possible for regular people to dress like royalty, yet for a fraction of the price. The Duchess’ unforgettable ‘Lamble’ gown retails for £2,700, yet it sits in Front Row’s archive for a modest £196.

“Funnily enough, we actually had a client renting it to wear on the red carpet at the Top Gun premiere,” says Shika. “We sent her multiple dresses to choose from and she ended up choosing the Roland Mouret. Can you imagine wearing the same dress at the same time as the Duchess of Cambridge? You’d instantly be considered a fashion icon. I can’t even imagine what Kate was thinking!

Front Row’s client wore the same dress as Duchess Kate on the red carpet

“The next day, we had so many calls from people clarifying whether this was Kate’s exact dress.

“We actually have a client who’s looking to purchase it and hire a seamstress from the Roland Mouret team to replace the back in the same way the Duchess did – so it really is the Kate effect coming into play.”

SEE: The 5 best clothing rental sites to level up your wardrobe

What inspired you to start Front Row?

Shika’s rental wardrobe may boast an impressive archive of royal-approve garments, but it’s not the only royal connection to her brand.

“When I started Front Row many moons ago, I actually started it from my own wardrobe. I had just graduated and was inspired by Meghan Markle‘s impeccable wardrobe on Suits – she looked fantastic on the sho

w in everything, and I started longing for this glamorous work wardrobe but for a fraction of the price,” she explains.

Shika Bodani started Front Row after being inspired by the Duchess of Sussex

“I went on a shopping spree and started to realise just how unsustainable everything is, not to mention how storage is a huge issue – so that inspired me to start Front Row. I initially started it as a clothes swap idea, before it became what it is today.”

What would you say to people who view rental fashion as ‘too expensive’?

“Ultimately when you look at the retail prices compared to rental, we’re typically renting out our garments at 10% of the price of the original.

Roland Mouret Gown, from £196, Front Row

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“Of course with luxury fashion, the prices are much higher. I still think there are so many benefits to rental fashion, from having your garments dry cleaned and ready to wear, to not having to source the right storage, to the cost.”

MORE: Exclusive: Lady Amelia Windsor on bags, sustainable fashion and second-hand stores

Plus, if it means you might get the opportunity to dress like the Duchess of Cambridge for the day, we’re here for it!

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