Mary-Kate & Ashley Olsen: ‘We were raised to be discreet people’

Mary-Kate Olsen, Ashley Olsen

Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen are profiled in I-D Magazine and the piece is almost entirely about their high-end label, The Row. The Row is a favorite among fashionistas and wealthy tastemakers but the prices are so high, you don’t see the pieces in most “street style” photos. MK and Ashley started The Row by designing one perfect white t-shirt and fifteen years later, The Row employs hundreds of people throughout America and Europe. The line has revitalized and redefined American craftsmanship in fashion. Props to them, honestly. I think most The Row’s designs look like high-end bag-lady stuff, but God bless. Some highlights from this I-D piece:

Ashley on starting The Row: “I don’t know how conscious we were of what we were doing at that time, to be really honest. We had just moved to New York. We were 18 years old and I think what we did know was that we wanted to take that time to take a break from what we were previously doing and to explore things that interested us, and explore what life has to offer…” “Creatively,” Mary-Kate chimes in. “We wanted to explore making something of ourselves,” Ashley finishes.

They never wanted to be the faces of The Row: “We didn’t want to be in front of it, we didn’t necessarily even want to let people know it was us,” Ashley explains. “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?”

Their privacy: They rarely give interviews (“We’re a bit out of practice,” warns Mary-Kate), they don’t have social media, nor do they shop online.

MK on hard work: “I think we’re very much perfectionists and hard workers and we’ve always been hard workers. So, I am happy that people look at it as a perfect product, or products that feel complete, or whole. I think the reason that we do fashion is to constantly try to fix our imperfections, and you always have next season to do that. It’s also our job to find every imperfection in there to make sure that we’re constantly pushing ourselves and training our eyes and making sure everyone is served. Just evolving and learning.”

MK on luxury: “The word luxury is used pretty much everywhere now, but for us it’s something that makes your life easier. The idea that you could buy something off the rack, put it on your body and it already feels like a part of your wardrobe, that’s luxury. You don’t even have to think about it.”

Ashley on growing The Row slowly: “It was small enough for the business to get through the early years, and I think we even saw more of an investment in our pieces because it was really about the quality of the garment and people felt comfortable and safe investing in our pieces.

Discretion at all costs: MK says, “We were raised to be discreet people.” Ashley: “I think that potentially that’s just our aesthetic, our design preference. But that doesn’t mean that we don’t also appreciate something truly ornate or maximal. Sometimes a collection even starts quite like that, and then gets pared down. It doesn’t always start from that simplistic place.”

Ashley on the twin thing: “We like working together and we like having that dialogue. I think it helps harden your ideas to be able to hear them out loud, to speak something through. You know, we definitely go by intuition and instinct and it can either confirm that feeling, or if we’re both not feeling right about something, for some reason, we just don’t do it. Our instincts are kind of the same. But I think what’s great is that we have each other to lean on. And managing design is one thing and then also running the business side is another and I think you have a lot of decisions to make. I mean, when you put those two things together, there’s a lot of decisions to make on a daily basis, so I think we feel fortunate that we can have that dialogue and divide and conquer a bit.

[From I-D Magazine]

What sort of strikes me, every time I read an interview with the Olsens, is how they never really felt the need to develop wildly separate interests, which is what many twins do. They were always like “oh, you’re into that? Cool, so am I,” and they built a billion-dollar business off of it. They have the twin-brain happening, of course, but that natural “twinness” has been heightened over decades of working so closely together on all of their shared businesses. They really are two halves of the whole. As for discretion… yeah, they are discreet. But more importantly, they’re not needy. They don’t *need* to be out, to be seen, to get press. That natural reticence makes them more fascinating.

The Met Gala 2017

Photos courtesy of WENN and Avalon Red.

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16 Responses to “Mary-Kate & Ashley Olsen: ‘We were raised to be discreet people’”

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  1. questions says:

    In the age of social media, I find that I want to know more about the celebrities who are less attention-seeking.

    Also, I have to say they made the right decision to turn down Fuller House. Granted, I watch it….just because….I really don’t know why…but the new version is kind of bad. The singing and dancing is painful to get through.

    • Lee says:

      “In the age of social media, I find that I want to know more about the celebrities who are less attention-seeking.”

      I totally get that, same for me!

  2. Sequinedheart says:

    I love them. I think for the discretion piece alone, I respect the hell out of them.
    I just wish I could afford the row…. It’s very classic and tasteful.
    They got far away from the child actor thing unscathed and did wonderfully. That’s truly an anomaly in that industry.

    • Krystina says:

      They didn’t get out completely unscathed. Eating disorders and a few other things happened to them.

  3. Ariel says:

    I recall when they turned 18 and went to college- it was awful, men doing countdowns online until they were “legal”, classmates putting their whereabouts, etc. on social media (was there social media then- was it just the “internet”?).
    It could have made them crazy.
    Instead, they pulled back from the public thing and found their path.
    Lovely to see.

    Of course, when their amazing manager or agent made them producers at 5 years old, and they had all the control over their projects- and as 12 year olds their wardrobe person started altering adult clothes to fit them because there just weren’t any clothes in their size/for their age group that were interesting to them- i think is where their fashion journey started.

    Love that they were allowed a voice, and power, and yet didn’t go teen crazy with it, for the most part.
    Kudos to them and their parents and their professional teams from the start.

  4. Lex says:

    I’m so protective over them. They were my idols growing up, and I love that they keep to themselves now. I wish I could afford anything they do. Bring back the Walmart line!!

  5. Leanne says:

    Maybe they don’t need to have separate interests because they are fraternal twins and not identical ones?

    • questions says:

      Or maybe they’re richer together than apart. They’re a good team that built a billion-dollar empire. They trust each other and will always have each other’s back. Why mess with that?

  6. Lucy says:

    I didn’t really follow their acting career growing up but I find myself totally admiring them as designers and maybe even as celebs…? I 100% believe them when they say they don’t care about bringing attention to themselves. I know their style isn’t everyone’s cup of tea but I love it!

  7. TaraBest says:

    As a “near twin” (my sister is 16 months younger than me) I would love nothing more than to spend all day working on a business with my sister. Sure, we have separate interests but we’ve always liked the same things and always worked well together. We live on opposite sides of the country now but it would be a dream to work together everyday.

  8. molly says:

    They are such a perfect example of taking your millions/billions, going off to do what you want, and minding your own business. So many celebs can’t help but be thirsty and needy, and I’ve always respected the Olsons for never begging for attention.

  9. Chaine says:

    Is the I-D article meant to counter the very snarky coverage from this past spring in New York Mag’s The Cut that all but predicted the demise of The Row?

  10. Sara says:

    I’m an identical twin and can confirm there is no one I’d rather do a group project with than my sister. We always sought our own complementary interests that allowed us to exist together, but with our own identities. I am happy that, through “it all,” the Olsens still have each other.

  11. Betsy says:

    I seem to remember having read that about them supporting American crafts and while the Row isn’t mostly to my liking (though that Elasta shirt – wow! Perfect!!), I really appreciate what they do.

    Also it isn’t remotely in my price or size range so I’m never going to shop there but you get me.

  12. AnneSurely says:

    The quality and construction of their clothes are unparalleled for the price. I own a few pieces that I’ve been able to pick up at yoox and Barney’s warehouse. I have a 10 year old leather pencil skirt from their line that I’ll be able to wear forever and I think I paid $300 for it. It’s gorgeous leather and lined with beautiful silk. Too many brands billing themselves as luxury (hello d & g, Gucci, and lela rose) are made poorly from cheap fabrics and sold for far too much money. The Row is definitely worth every penny.

  13. Bibi says:

    So, I’m thinking we have no problem with the Olsen’s being billionaires and there will be no outrage about exploitation and damage to the environment? I wonder what the difference is between the twins and Rihanna.