2 posts tagged "Olsenboye"
Design duo Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen added a fourth clothing collection this week, launching a line for Norwegian retailer Bik Bok to join The Row, Elizabeth and James, and Olsenboye. The grungy range is geared toward the “Scandinavian It Girl,” and its similarities to Fall ’13 Saint Laurent—lookbook model Julia Nobis included—have us doing a double take.
In this ongoing series, Style.com’s editor in chief, Dirk Standen, talks to a number of leading industry figures about the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead for the fashion business.
Dualstar, the world headquarters of Ashley and Mary-Kate Olsen’s numerous enterprises, isn’t some high-tech fortress. Set on a nondescript Chelsea block, it’s a low-key loft building that seems to have evaded condo-ization. Step inside and you could be entering the studio of any up-and-coming downtown designer. There are the bare wood floors, the nice flowers, the cartons of takeout food. It’s all very normal, and you sense that’s important to these refugees from massive childhood fame.
At a stage in life where many of their peers are vying for a slot on Celebrity Rehab With Dr. Drew, the Olsens are appearing in 130 stores worldwide with their luxury fashion label The Row, and they have been nominated for the Swarovski Award for Womenswear, the top honor for emerging talent, at next month’s Council of Fashion Designers of America gala. They are among the few celebrities to make critically acclaimed clothes (Ashley, left, long ago gave up acting and Mary-Kate now says she is too busy to pursue it, too), and nothing is typical about their approach. They sell their line Olsenboye to JCPenney at the same time that they sell The Row to Bergdorf Goodman, they deliberately aim The Row at women much older than themselves, and though they were born into the digital generation, their embrace of social media is a wary one. Still just 24, they are literally part of the future of fashion.
In conversation, the sisters are by turns articulate and guarded. They’ve done the media dance before and they’re not going to be drawn out of their comfort zone. Ask them about John Galliano’s meltdown and you won’t get much. Ashley: “I think he’s an amazing designer.” Mary-Kate: “I think he’s a brilliant designer.” That’s not to say they lack warmth. They laugh frequently, and though they speak in soft tones, they’re not afraid to meet your gaze with their startled, green-tinted eyes. Ashley is in some ways the designated spokesperson for the pair, Mary-Kate the quieter and funnier one, but their roles are more fluid than that, and yes, they frequently complete each other’s sentences. Here they shed some light on the design process behind The Row, the accidental way they became fashion icons, and the reason Twitter makes them anxious.
You have three or four lines now, The Row, Elizabeth and James, Textile Elizabeth and James, and Olsenboye. Was it a conscious decision to have different lines to address different segments of the market?
Ashley: No, it kind of developed over time. It started when we were 10, working with Walmart, so we already had a mass brand that was the Mary-Kate and Ashley brand. It was our names, it was our faces. The design development process was really done in house as well, so we went all through that process. Then we kind of stopped when we were 18 and came here for school, started developing the concept of The Row during our first and second year of school. While this was coming to fruition we started doing Elizabeth and James, too. Several months later…
Mary-Kate: I think everything kind of happened organically.
A: It just sort of organically started. Things come up and it depends on the timing, if we think it’s a good idea. We started doing handbags for The Row in our fifth year, which haven’t hit stores yet. Just slow growth, organic.
Were you concerned that having a line like Olsenboye, which sells at JCPenney, would detract from building a luxury label like The Row?
A: No, I think they’re just totally different markets, and we approach each market very differently but with the same integrity and the same intent. With The Row we manufacture and produce everything in the U.S, and in Italy for the handbags and one or two sweater styles. Elizabeth and James, Olsenboye is a licensed brand, so that is not in this house. We do a lot of our marketing and PR out of this office, a lot of the design and development process is in our partner’s office…We’re extremely involved in that design process; we’re just not taking on the operations.
You have separate design teams for each line?
Specifically on The Row, where does the design process start for you?
A: It all starts with the fabrics…Then we go into kind of silhouette development, so we start figuring out our silhouettes, what we’re liking, what we’re leaning towards, an evolution of the previous season, certain pieces, so it really starts with this stylized proportion. Then, through that process, we start our pattern making off the silhouettes that we’re liking and the consistent themes that we start finding, the shapes. So we start twisting the fabrics and then we start trying different fabrics and patterns. And once we have all the fabrics, we have about three weeks to produce the collection.
That’s a different process from a lot of designers, who are inspired by this trip they just took or a photo they came across.
MK: You’d have to take a lot of trips, no?
The Row has become known for a sort of minimalist luxury. Do you feel your last collection [Fall 2011] was a departure?
A: More elaborate.
MK: Yeah, we haven’t really done a lot of color, and slowly over the seasons we’ve explored that a bit. And different techniques as well when it comes to the fur, beading, lace. But if you go through our entire collection, you’ve seen it all before. Meaning, pieces repeat. That fur T-shirt, for example, that’s this T-shirt [points to plain one she’s wearing] from a couple of seasons ago, so it’s always consistent. It’s just about how we can evolve and also give the option to either buy this version or that version, creating a story. Continue Reading “The Future Of Fashion, Part Eight:
Ashley And Mary-Kate Olsen” »