Style Profile: Mary-Kate Olsen
People called it homeless chic or granny chic. There were a lot of terms. But it was a very striking moment. Were you conscious it was happening?
A: That moment for us was us waking up, going to school, and not wanting anyone to take our picture. Kind of a piece of protection.
MK: For me, it was so cold, like the wind chill. How could you not put on 20 things when you’re going from Los Angeles to walking through the snow?
A: Yeah, we were California girls.
MK: I think it was probably that. And laziness.
Source: Style.com Interview
A lot of people will remember the time MKO used to be photographed in oversized clothing looking homeless (as was questioned by Style.com), but she has since paired her look down into what I’d categorize as grungy, rather than granny, chic. I have always preferred her style to her sister’s simply because she took style liberties and chances that Ashley didn’t. MKO to me has always done what she wants without giving a shi* about what anyone else has said - and that is always the ultimate style statement.
For two girls who are known to be super petite, the exacting proportions of their own clothing is unbelievable. And I think because both girls are so aware of what looks good on their body, the fit of of fabrics has always been top of mind for them. And so, out of this desire to find the perfect clothing, was born their super luxe line, The Row. From designing what they consider to be “the perfect tee” to the perfect trouser, The Row is a line that really does only use the highest quality fabrics and materials, and is the line for you if you want master craftsmanship. Season after season, the twins consistently get rave reviews about how well their clothes are made. For example:
The Olsens work with the finest materials, and they’ve become connoisseurs of subtlety. - Nicole Phelps, Style.com
Instead, they trade in a distinctly refined and discreet elegance that appeals to women their age (26, lest anyone forget) and women thrice their age. The understated appeal can’t be overstated. - Emily Holt, Vogue
Theirs is a very specific take on minimalism, with a quiet grandeur and authority that values elegance over edge. Whether they know it or not, the Olsens are the aesthetic descendants of Zoran and Ronaldus Shamask. - WWD
But I think what I love most about their label and their philosophy when it comes to fashion, is that their desire to make GREAT clothing is always apparent. The research that goes into their designs can be seen and when they’re interviewed about their collections, you know that both were completely hands on; from the conception to its completion (unlike the vast majority of actors-cum-fashion designer).
The first coffee table book I ever invested in was the Olsens’ Influence. Why? Well, aside from the obvious of me loving MKO’s style, it was because it was a window into some of the research the girls did prior to launching a fashion label. Not only did they build relationships with key artists, designers, models, etc. in the creative field, but they sought to really learn as much about the business as they could before trying their hand at design themselves. They took the opportunity to build a brand and fashion label seriously and put the time and effort into it.
I think a lot of brands fail when they forget what it is they’re trying to do. The Row never set out to be anything other than an outlet where the girls could experiment with high end materials while on the path of creating the perfect tee.
MARY-KATE: It all started with us talking with our friends about the T-shirt—just putting it on bodies, on anyone from 12 to 60, and different sizes.
ASHLEY: We wanted it to be different sizes; we wanted it to be timeless. So it was learning about production and manufacturing, one piece at a time.
And as they mastered one thing, they moved on to the next. Their first collection was only 19 pieces, but what a statement it was! Why I think The Row continues to succeed is because both girls know what their core business is which they pursue relentlessly. They have a vision of what they want to create, despite maybe not knowing what shape or form that vision will take physically.
ASHLEY: Our core business are those pieces that you really want to have accessible to you but you don’t really want to worry about, like a great white button-down.
(Source: Interview Magazine)
And this is with all brands, and as I’m learning personally right now, as it is with human beings. Being authentic is the only thing that really matters and the only thing that’s really “cool.” People like what they like and eventually, those who prescribe to that kind of philosophy will gravitate towards you, or you to them and you sort of find your own tribe of people who speak the same language. This is only happened to me a couple of times in the last few years, but it’s been magical when you finally do find someone else who “gets” it.