The Duchess of Cambridge has an international wardrobe, boasting outfits from a range of high-end designers from all corners of the world. But when it comes to her own children Prince George and Princess Charlotte, Kate tends to turn to Spanish labels. This is particularly true of her one-year-old daughter Charlotte. Just hours after she was born, the little Princess left the hospital wrapped up in a cream knitted bonnet from Irulea — a family business based in the Spanish northern city of San Sebastian.
Prince William and Kate's Spanish nanny, Maria Teresa Turrion Borrallo, gave the bonnet as a gift. Shopkeeper Ayago Villar, who runs the 84-year-old family business with her sister Susana, told HELLO! Online that it was a "pleasant surprise" to see Charlotte wearing their bonnet. "It was made in our shop, it's all handmade," said Ayago.
Princess Charlotte wearing a cream bonnet made by Irulea, a family business in Spain
No doubt Kate's Spanish nanny Maria has been influential in dressing her young charges. For Charlotte's first official portrait, the Princess was again dressed head-to-toe in Irulea. Maria had picked out the clothes before Charlotte was born and given them as a present. Kate is also a fan of Spanish brand m&h, which is sold in Valladolid, Madrid and Valencia. She owns at least one pink floral dress from the shop, which Charlotte wore for her official portraits when she was six months old. The Duchess is also a customer of Amaia Kids, a boutique based in London but owned by Spaniard Amaia Arrieta. Prince George has been pictured wearing a blue knitted cardigan by the label.
Explaining Kate's tendency to shop Spanish, HELLO!'s royal correspondent Emily Nash said: "We've seen Kate increasingly opt for Spanish brands in recent years, most notably from Princess Charlotte's first appearance outside the Lindo Wing wearing knitwear by Irulea, which was a gift from the Cambridge's Spanish nanny Maria Teresa Turrion Borallo. They are fairly traditional pieces, so very appropriate for royal children."
Susan Kelley, of WhatKateWore.com and WhatKatesKidsWore.com, noted: "I don't think there was ever any grand plan to patronise Spanish companies. That initial gift from Nanny Borrallo's family of the little bonnet, booties, sweater, and chemise we saw Charlotte wearing by Spanish heritage brand Irulea probably planted a seed in Kate's mind about trying a different approach to their wardrobes."
Prince George wearing a blue knitted cardigan by Amaia Kids
Both royal experts agreed that perhaps Kate doesn't want to trigger the 'George and Charlotte effect'. Emily said of Spanish brands: "I suspect they are also a hit with the Duchess because they are relatively exclusive and not as easy to copy as, for example, something from a UK high street brand. She's seen the phenomenal 'Kate Effect' caused by her own fashion choices and perhaps, understandably, wants to avoid her children becoming mini fashion influencers at such a young age!"
Susan added: "Buying from boutique brands that don't mass-produce huge quantities of clothing lets Kate control to some degree the mania that follows an appearance. M&H, a Spanish retailer, has said each of its five stores is generally stocked with just ten pieces of any given style. That certainly cuts down on the number of people who can buy 'the same dress Princess Charlotte has.'"
Not only does Kate shop at the same brands, she tends to dress George and Charlotte in similar outfits for each public outing and portrait. "One of the easiest ways to cut back on the craziness surrounding the children's wardrobes is to simply have them wear the same thing time and again," said Susan. "Prince George is in traditionally styled shorts, often navy blue in color. The most variation seen is the fabric: linen and cotton for warmer temps, and corduroy for cooler days. He generally wears the same style knee socks from Amaia Kids in South Kensington. They are navy or they are French blue - you won't see a parade of new colors or styles.
"The same goes for Charlotte: her dresses are almost always pastel floral prints paired with a solid color cardigan from Spain's M&H. She wears ribbed tights or anklets from Amaia Kids; her hair bows come from the same place, the only variation is a change in color or size of the bow. There is not a constant display of new styles that will have shoppers racing to their keyboards to buy her latest look."
Princess Charlotte again wearing an outfit by Irulea
Susan added: "I think Kate is doing what she can to minimize the George and Charlotte Effects, both of which we have seen repeatedly, just like the Kate Effect: that frenzied, almost manic reaction from shoppers who absolutely must buy the exact same thing worn by the Prince or Princess. Clearly, Kate is hopeful that if people see Charlotte and George in nearly identical designs, they won't be as likely to race to the computer to buy the very same thing. Again."
Of their very traditional look, Emily concluded: "I think George and Charlotte probably stick to a certain look, i.e. the shorts and knee socks and floral dress and cardigan, for public appearances and official photographs because that's how royal children have traditionally been dressed, so we occasionally see the same pieces being worn again, which makes complete sense when it comes to kidswear."