Every time first lady Michelle Obama appears publicly, she generates $14 million in revenue for whoever makes the clothes she’s wearing. Now, we don’t have fancy business degrees or anything, but that’s a lot of cash.
And that’s exactly what NYU business professor David Yermack found when he examined the style star’s economic impact. According to his findings, published recently in the Harvard Business Review, Obama pushed the stock prices up for the 29 brands she’s been seen wearing most often. And the bump lasts long enough that it simply can’t be attributed to normal market variations.
For example, when she wore an outfit from J.Crew on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno in 2008, the company’s shares were trading just above $16. Four days later, the stock had risen to over $20 a share, an increase of about 25 percent. Twelve weeks after Obama wore a Naeem Khan dress at the state dinner for the Indian prime minister, Khan told the Wall Street Journal that his stuff was still “flying out of stores.”
And as Yermack explains, Obama has a unique ability to keep shoppers coming back to the point of sale.
Even fashion icons such as France’s Carla Bruni-Sarkozy do not [have this kind of effect]. Bruni-Sarkozy, like many First Ladies, dresses mainly in one brand: Dior. Obama mixes couture with items anyone can buy at a mall—she famously wore J. Crew gloves while holding the Lincoln Bible at the Inauguration. Consumers flock to the stores, and even if they don’t buy what she wears, they often leave with something else.
Yermack’s data has been visualized in the graph below. Click on it to see just how much Obama’s endorsement means to our economy.