June 16, 2024

Fashion Design

Fashion Designs that Enlighten the Soul.

Meet Mary-Kate and Ashley’s Clothing Line, The Row

5 min read

Those who grew up in the era of peak Olsen twin fandom knew acting was just a stepping stone in the sisters’ career. Mary-Kate and Ashley’s true passion was always fashion — they’ve been style icons from a young age — so it wasn’t all that surprising to fans of the duo when they retired as actors and pursued a career in design. It started with a preteen collaboration with Walmart and led to the eventual creation of their luxury clothing line, The Row.

And when we say luxury, we mean luxury — think $1,000 jeans, $3,000 clutches, and $9,000 leather coats. Considering that the brand has been in business since 2006, though, the Olsen twins are clearly doing something right. To find out what has led to their success, we’re taking a deeper look at The Row’s history and how its creators run their fashion line as privately as their personal lives.

Keep scrolling to learn everything there is to know about Mary-Kate and Ashley’s clothing line.

Brand Beginnings

The Row came to fruition in 2006, when Ashley set out to create the perfect white T-shirt. In a 2011 interview with Net-A-Porter, Ashley explained that she and her sister saw a gap. No brand was conceptualizing “the core, wearable part of a wardrobe” under the designer luxury category. So, the sisters set out to fill that gap by designing minimal, quality pieces — from basics to tailored goods to accessories. The Olsens were 18 years old at the time.

How ‘The Row’ Got Its Name

While some celebrities choose to have eponymous brands, Mary-Kate and Ashley decided against it. Intending to let the clothes speak for themselves, the sisters patented “The Row” after Saville Row, a street in London best known for its tailoring shops. 

“We didn’t want to be in front of it, we didn’t necessarily even want to let people know it was us,” Ashley told i-D in 2021. “It was really about the product, to the point where we were like: Who could we get to front this so that we don’t have to?”

The Row

Who Owns It

The Row was born and bred on West 22nd Street at the Dualstar headquarters in Chelsea, New York, reported Vogue. Dualstar is an entertainment LLC once owned by both the Olsen twins and their entertainment attorney, Robert Thorne. According to Entertainment Weekly, when they turned 18, the fashion moguls bought out Thorne’s stake in the company, making them its sole proprietors. Since then, Dualstar has been the parent company of not only The Row, but the sisters’ other brands, including Olsenboye (created exclusively for JC Penney), Elizabeth and James, and StyleMint.

The Products

Because Mary-Kate and Ashley’s stardom wasn’t rooted in fashion, but, rather, sitcoms and movies geared toward a juvenile demographic, they had to earn their stripes in the industry, so-to-speak. 

In the early days of The Row, retail buyers were skeptical, and, to be fair, it’s understandable; celebrity fashion labels don’t have the best reputation in terms of quality. “People would drill us about fabric, where we’d make it,” Mary-Kate told Vogue. “The first season, customers bought it, so the stores came back. And drilled us again.”

The fashion moguls went so far as to limit their branding to a single gold chain — no label, no name, just clothing. They mulled this over, telling i-D they wondered if true quality, luxury items could sell without a monogrammed tag. “Can it sit in a store with no name and will it sell? Will people want to buy it if the products are right?” they asked. Evidently, the answer is yes. 

Fashion Shows

Mary-Kate and Ashley are known for being private. They run in a small circle, and, for the most part, stay out of the tabloids. They prefer to keep their lives discreet and the same goes for their seasonal presentations. The Row held its first New York Fashion Show in 2010 and has since kept their presentations intimate. They are often hosted at their showroom in the West Village.

“When I think about being in their shows it’s something that’s very calm, quiet, not over-exposed. They don’t have a thousand photographers backstage. There’s not even that many photographers on the runway,” Gigi Hadid told i-D of her experience participating in The Row’s presentations. “That comes from them. They want to put out their art without feeling too exposed or too vulnerable or used for the wrong reasons.”

The Row

Brand Identity

We would argue that The Row isn’t best known for one specific piece, but rather for its quality and reputation of putting fit and fabric above all else. (That isn’t to say other details aren’t important, however; the designers are highly meticulous about their creations and have, on more than one occasion, proclaimed themselves perfectionists).  

The Row is also known for having a unique interpretation of everyday staples. The clothes are both basic and anything but; what sets the label apart from other brands is how it approaches and enhances simplicity. The Row takes a classic menswear button-down shirt and exaggerates its pointed collar or reimagines a traditional trench to be simultaneously tailored and relaxed.

The Row’s clothes and accessories definitely feel like something Mary-Kate and Ashley would wear. Collections typically focus on neutral colors, such as beige and black, but colorful pieces similar to those we’ve seen on the Olsens — such as Mary-Kate’s red cardigan — do make an appearance. Items are often oversized and there are multiple, must-have coats in every mix. And that makes us love the brand so much more.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Is The Row vegan-friendly?

    No. The Row uses many materials that are not vegan-friendly — including wool, leather, and cashmere. However, there are some cotton-based pieces, which are vegan-friendly.

  • Does The Row make menswear?

    Yes. The Row’s first menswear collection was released in fall 2018. The offerings are similar to the womenswear collections, consisting of timeless staples such as sweaters, trousers, and coats.

  • Where is The Row sold?


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