It used to be her sister – Kate Middleton – that the fashion pundits would watch with eager eyes, closely scrutinising every outfit and purchase and declaring them a style hit. But now Pippa, she of the immaculate derriere, has also grabbed some fashionista attention, and in particular, her love for one label’s handbag has sent sales rocketing.
The £195 Modalu handbag is hardly a designer luxury brand, but worn on the arm of near royalty and it takes on a completely different status. Elevated to A List must haves, the Modalu grab bag has proved to be so popular since Pippa Middleton started toting it, that sales have soared fifty fold, and extra workers have had to be drafted in to cope with the extra demand.
And not one to miss up on a free advertising opportunity, the canny company has now renamed their best-selling bag ‘Pippa’ in honour of Pippa’s devotion to their bag. This really is the type of free press that companies can only dream of, and whilst Pippa has not given any kind of official endorsement to the Modalu, they have been crafty and sent her four freebie bags, in different colours, so that she can continue advertising the bag for them.
The custom-made bags are in tan, mock croc, black and oyster, each with her name discreetly embossed on the back. And not to look a gift bag on the arm, Pippa was apparently so chuffed with her free bags, that she actually took time out from her busy schedule and sent a note personally written by her good self!
The once small time company based in Surrey last night revealed, via managing director Mike Hiscock, 49, that they had to build new premises at their factory in Chennai, South-East India, to cope with demand. It now employs 250 people, with 100 especially dedicated to the Pippa range.
He said: ‘I’ve been in the business for 25 years and I’ve not seen anything like the explosion that Pippa carrying our bag had on the market.
‘Within 24 hours, our switchboards were jammed with people wanting to know where they could get their hands on one. Sales went up from £10,000 a month to £500,000.’
And if your company sold a product that was being endorsed by a member of near royalty, you surely would capitalise on this success by using pictures on your website, as Modalu have done. She is pictured with the bags on its website, which boasts: ‘Pippa Middleton has a number of different colours of our bestselling Pippa bag.’
The clever bag label has also just bought out a range of accessories to expand the Pippa bag collection, which include £159 shoulder bags, £75 wristlets and £69 wallets, all of which sold out over Christmas.
‘The whole Modalu brand is now anticipated to have an annual turnover of £11 million, compared with £1 million before the Royal Wedding,’ Mr Hiscock says.
‘Frankly, we could not have bought the kind of publicity she’s given us. It was because she liked the product. We’ve not paid her a penny to endorse it, but sent her four custom-made versions.
‘Obviously we would love to have her as a brand ambassador, but no approach has been made because of her Royal connection. We would not want to do anything to cause her any embarrassment.’
And Pippa is not the only Middleton who loves the brand, as mother Carole was also pictured with her own Pippa bag when she attended the unveiling of Kate’s first official portrait last week.
Pippa was first spotted with a shark-coloured Modalu bag, the morning after her sister’s wedding and sales for the bag soared.
Lucy Rome, brand manager, said: ‘We had interest from around the world, but particularly from America. We just couldn’t make them fast enough.
‘For a while there was a huge waiting list for the shark and tan version. Our factory had to work round the clock to produce enough. We renamed it the Pippa because that’s what people started to ask for.’
To see the Pippa range at Modalu visit their website.