You might not be able to sit down with Oprah, but you can sit down like Oprah, thanks to patio furniture that resembles the set featured in her interview with Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, the Duchess of Sussex.
While the focus of her widely watched conversation with the couple revolved around several bombshell revelations about the royal family, the patio furniture and the outfits and accessories worn by Meghan and Oprah Winfrey also got lots of attention.
Several articles tracked down a set of chairs that they claimed were the ones used in the interview. The set, which was available on Amazon and at several other retailers, was listed for about $600 and is sold out on multiple sites. Another nearly identical set of rattan chairs on Walmart.com retailed for over $300 and is also sold out. Lookalikes for other items, such as the outdoor rug, the low table and the succulents centerpiece, were also featured in articles and quickly sold out.
It wasn’t just the patio furniture that had people talking.
Oprah’s Götti eyeglasses spawned articles with several lookalike frames, and the designer of Meghan’s dress was quickly identified as Giorgio Armani.
Neil Saunders, managing director of GlobalData’s retail division, attributed the fascination with clothing, accessories and even patio furniture to two things.
“First of all, a lot of famous people tend to be very put together in their outfits. Someone like Oprah will have a stylist, will think about what she’s wearing. … That does make the clothes they wear quite enviable,” Saunders said. “The other thing, when you have someone like Meghan, a lot of people admire her, [which] makes her a kind of icon as an individual, and people look to emulate that in terms of the things she’s wearing to try to get a bit of that kind of attitude or personality into their own psyche.”
There was also lots of speculation about the significance of the lotus flower featured on Meghan’s dress, which mirrors similar treatments of the sartorial and styling choices other politicians, royals and world figures make when they appear in public. An entire industry has cropped up dedicated to analyzing the choices celebrities make with their ensembles, which can often carry significant meaning, be it positive or negative.
The same phenomenon was seen around this year’s presidential inauguration, where outfits worn by former first lady Michelle Obama, National Youth Poet Laureate Amanda Gorman and members of President Joe Biden’s and Vice President Kamala Harris’ families were quickly noticed and analyzed. Throughout Donald Trump’s and Barack Obama’s presidencies, outfits worn by the first families were assessed for their deeper messaging — and similar treatment is routinely given to choices made by British royals, including Kate Middleton, the Duchess of Cambridge.
“Where there’s a very high-profile event, be it an inauguration or big interview like this that lots of people tune in to, inevitably the products and the outfits and garments featured really gather a lot of attention,” Saunders said. “You start having a lot of curiosity about where these products came from, and then people search them out online or find things that are similar.”
The fascination then leads to increased spending as the items are quickly sourced and sell out online. As consumers have sought out such information more readily, designers have become more vocal on social media, taking ownership of certain looks and sharing details about the process and inspiration behind them.
The designers and stylists behind outfits worn by the Obamas, Kate and Meghan have made similar posts in the past, and Ivanka Trump used social media to promote her eponymous clothing line after an appearance at the Republican National Convention.
After Biden’s inauguration, the hairstylist who worked on Michelle Obama’s hair posted on Instagram about the look. The designer who made first lady Jill Biden’s ensemble for inauguration night shared that it featured the official flowers from every state and U.S. territory.
“Social media platforms have really democratized fashion and trends, because it becomes very, very easy for a designer to really showcase their wares to very large audiences in a way that in the past you just couldn’t do,” Saunders said. “Before the advent of social media, to amplify your brand you would have to get a placement in one of the big magazines, you’d have to get on the news or be talked about in the media, and that wasn’t always easy.”
Now, not only is it easier for the designers to promote the looks, but consumers are also so eager to emulate what they see on famous figures that other designers and brands will often launch similar styles or “knockoffs” to capitalize on the fascination and spending.