By Kate Tormey
Perhaps not since Jacqueline Kennedy has a First Lady had as much impact on American fashion as Michelle Obama.
People dissect what Obama wears to read to a preschool class like it’s the red carpet at the Oscars. I’m no fashionista, but I think she generally looks pretty classy and dresses appropriately for her age, bare shoulders and all. And besides her impact on pop culture, the first lady's wardrobe choices have had an effect on her favorite brands' profits.
So exactly how much is it worth to get your designs on the first lady? According to a study conducted by a New York University researcher, about $14 million per appearance.
The study found that 29 companies whose designs Obama wore in a total of 189 appearances have seen higher-than-usual stock prices – a total of $2.7 billion in additional value. Check out this infographic on the Michelle Obama effect.
What was even more surprising are some of the companies that saw a boost from these appearances: J. Crew (Stock Quote: JCG), Gap (Stock Quote: GPS), Kohl’s (Stock Quote: KSS), Target (Stock Quote: TGT) and Urban Outfitters (Stock Quote: URBN). Conspicuously absent are all those couture designers with complicated French names.
In an interview with the Harvard Business Review, the study’s author, David Yermack, said Obama’s choice of clothing seems to have a stronger effect than, say, an endorsement from a movie star or musician.
"The First Lady’s astonishing influence may be tied to the fact that consumers know she’s not paid to wear what she does, whereas they may subconsciously discount models’ endorsements as inherently corrupt," he said.
Are you more likely to wear something because a celebrity wears it? And does it matter to you if they’re paid to do so – or if they choose the item on their own?