Kate debuted an edgier millinery look, wearing the same hat worn several times before by Sophie, Countess of Wessex
“Kate usually wears more formal styles, but she was attending church on a winter’s day and our hats are made from wool, so they do add a bit of warmth,” Alice Leet-Cook, cofounder of Hicks & Brown, the brand behind Kate’s blue fedora hat, tells PEOPLE.
As it turns out, Sophie Wessex — who is married to William’s uncle, Prince Edward — has the exact same style of hat, the Suffolk Fedora with Pheasant Feather Wrap ($124) in camel, which she also wore to church with the Queen at Sandringham just last week, after purchasing hers in 2018.
“Sophie bought her hat from us a couple of years ago,” explains Leet-Cook from her studio in Suffolk, which borders Norfolk, the country home of the Cambridge family. “We were at a horse show in Windsor when she came to the stand and bought it herself. She wore it the following day, driving a carriage and then again that Christmas and this Christmas too. We are thrilled that she clearly loves it so much.”
As to whether Sophie, who often wears fedora-style hats, recommended the brand to Kate, they can’t confirm. “There is a high possibility, but honestly we don’t know,” says Leet-Cook. “Kate’s team got in touch with us at the end of last year and we were just thrilled. We spent most of Sunday jumping around the room, over the moon once we saw she had actually worn it!”
Founded in 2014, Leet-Cook started the clothing and accessory brand with her sister Rosie Turner after they noticed a gap in the market for modern country attire. “We both grew up on a farm, enjoying the outdoors and we just felt that the market was fairly limited,” she says. “We wanted something that was traditional yet had a sense of individuality.”
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Both fans of Kate’s style, the entrepreneurial sisters agreed early on that Kate would be their perfect customer in so many ways. “We respect her massively for what she does,” says Leet-Cook. “She is hugely inspirational in her work and in terms of her style, she has a real, timeless elegant look which fits our brand perfectly.”
The brand, which they named after their family farm, has sold hundreds of hats in the 24 hours since Kate stepped out in their design, which she wore with an orange-and-blue flecked wool coat by Roksanda. “We have been working around the clock! We now have family members helping to pack the boxes,” says Leet-Cook. “It’s a real team effort and we don’t mind. It’s been incredible!” While the style is currently sold out, the hat is now on pre-order, with delivery expected in 5-6 weeks.
The group outing to church on Sunday, which also included Kate’s parents Carole and Michael Middleton, came just days before Kate celebrates her 38th birthday on Thursday and two weeks after her children Prince George and Princess Charlotte made their Christmas Day debut at the same church alongside the Queen.