Tuesday, October 26, 2010

The Impact of Michelle Obama's Fashion Choices

There was no doubt in this DC native's mind that Michelle Obama's wardrobe had a huge impact on the average woman. For the first time in my life people around me we discussing designers that DIDN'T have gowns on award show red carpets. Because most women do not read British Vogue, or subscribe to 50 different fashion blogs or can drop into Barneys to see what's new. Most of the women I know get their fashion information from the following: what celebrities are wearing to a major event, such as a movie premiere; what's mentioned in best selling chick lit, IE The Devil Wears Prada or Gossip Girl, what's shown in the uber-mainstream fashion rags like People Style Watch, and what has a more affordable diffusion line, with even more affordable accessories, particularly sunglasses. Usually a combination of at least two of the above is required to really permeate the minds of the non-fashion obsessed, leaving the obvious such as Chanel, Prada, Gucci, Dolce & Gabbana... all great fashion houses, but still a very limited view of all that sparkles in our closet!

Most of my friends will say they don't want to hear about any great high-end designers, that if they cannot afford said designer clothing than they do not want to hear about it. This makes me ANGRAY as how else will you be able to spot more affordable, upcoming trends to buy? No, I cannot go out and buy myself some ChloƩ camel pants, but maybe I'll be able to find something similar at J.Crew! But I digress, I just had to rant for a second.

Michelle Obama, on the other hand, has made a huge impact in the overall fashion sense of America. Wearing Isabel toledo and Jason Wu for the Inauguration was huge, but I'd also like to note that many of her day to day wardrobe choices ripple through the consumer's mind like nothing else. Outside NYC fashionistas, I knew of two people (myself and Kathy) who knew who Thakoon was before she rocked one of his floral frocks.

In fact, the Harvard Business Review recently had an analyst assess the monetary value Michelle Obama has on fashion labels she wears out in public. How the First Lady Moves Markets is a fascinating read, estimating that value of a single public appearance in a label a whopping $14 million! People consider her to be knowledgeable in fashion, yet totally relatable as well.

As numbers like this come out, perhaps more and more designers will recognize the value of a DC presence? I know she's probably not strolling through Georgetown, looking for items to update her wardrobe with. Most likely she gets flocks of clothing sent over for her to pick and choose from without stepping foot outside. But don't forget about the subtle nature of brand awareness - maybe her motorcade will drive by the latest Michael Kors boutique (just opened in DC!) and she'll go, "Hmm, I wonder what new items are in, I should check!" And definitely don't underestimate the power of the hundreds of Michelle Obama wanna be's, which are highly concentrated in a 50 mile radius around the White House!