Everything that’s worn by the Duchess of Cambridge is carefully thought-through – whether it’s choosing Ukrainian blue, or championing a local designer while overseas. The fact that Kate has worn three vintage pieces within the space of 48 hours, then, is surely not a coincidence.
First, the Duchess wore a vintage Yves Saint Laurent jacket, bought during her university days, while departing Belize. Then, the royal wore a striped turquoise and coral dress dating back to the ’50s – which was sourced from Cheltenham-based vintage store Willow Hilson and featured an adapted neckline – for a visit to Trench Town in Jamaica. The following day, she opted for a ’60s orange beaded handbag by Wayne Taylor, also from Willow Hilson, for a meeting with Jamaica’s prime minister Andrew Holness.
While Kate is well-known for re-wearing pieces from her own wardrobe (as well as borrowing from the Queen’s jewellery collection), it’s much rarer to see vintage pieces making an appearance. In fact, the royal has only sported vintage a handful of times in the past, including an ’80s polka-dot Oscar De La Renta dress during a visit to Dublin in 2020 and a ’30s purse during the G7 summit in 2021.
“Having someone like Kate wear [our pieces] is just incredible,” Willow Hilson, founder of Willow Hilson Vintage, tells Vogue. “I think she’s really trying to be an advocate for reusing and being [more] sustainable. There are still so many people who would never wear second-hand – she can encourage people to be a bit more savvy with their fashion and look for older pieces. Kate adapted her [1950s dress] so that it works perfectly for her – there’s no saying that you couldn’t do that as well.”
The flurry of vintage pieces seen on Kate comes as the royal has been introducing more pieces from eco-minded brands into her wardrobe, too. While in Belize over the weekend, the Duchess opted for a pair of white espadrilles by Stella McCartney for a visit to the beach, and the royal is also a fan of conscious sneaker brand Veja. Meanwhile, one of the Duchess’s go-to designers, Alexander McQueen, has been making a concerted effort to be more sustainable, with 85 per cent of materials from its autumn/winter 2022 collection being upcycled.
Given the huge interest in Kate’s sartorial choices, incorporating more vintage and eco-friendly brands in her wardrobe – alongside her royal re-wears – sends a powerful message about the importance of sustainable fashion. Could this royal tour be the start of a new, more eco-conscious chapter for the Duchess’s wardrobe? We certainly hope so.