Tag: mary kate and ashley

Weekly Words: April 8th 2017

I’ve had a thought. There’s often so many stories that come out in fashion and so many articles that I read that I’d like to make a comment on but I don’t have enough to say to make an entire post so I don’t discuss it at all. Instead of just ignoring all of these things I decided that I would start a weekly round-up of these things, to be published every Saturday. I’m basically just going to pull content from various sources that I’ve spotted and been inspired by over the previous week and put it all in one post. Hopefully it turns out to be a more concise way to share my thoughts with everybody in a more snappy, easy-to-follow format. Let the series begin!

“The Olsen Twins’ Ex Stylist Tells All” – Refinery29

I actually read this article on Snapchat (and sent it to myself, something that I was unaware you could do?) and thought about it afterwards. I have always loved the Olsen twins, ever since I was a little kid. I watched almost all of their movies and tv shows, read every single one of their books, and followed their fashion careers from the very beginning to the crazy levels of success that they have now reached. Who would’ve believed that child stars could become credible fashion designers?

I particularly liked reading about how their former stylist, Judy Swartz, helped pitch and develop their clothing line with Walmart and hearing about the product development side of things as I am currently taking a class in this area and find the process interesting. I was also shocked to find out that the collections were inspired by designer pieces or vintage books because I think we often think private label brands, especially for stores like Walmart, have no design influence whatsoever. To find out that there was somebody actually pulling together a sophisticated array of references and translating it all into childrenswear was genuinely surprising to me. I also had no idea that the twins wore designer pieces in their movies, like Pucci, Prada, Gucci, and Dolce & Gabbana. It’s worth flicking through the slideshow linked in the Refinery29 article, if not for the words for the images. Throwback MK & Ash is always welcome in my mind.

“Paul Smith’s pink wall is an LA Instagram phenomenon – but is it paying off for Paul Smith?” – Fashionista.com

I’d like to preface this by saying that as a regular Fashionista reader I was keen to find out how their content would change when one of their editors, Dhani Mau, moved to LA as the site was rather NYC-centric. As the West Coast editor, I feel that she has managed to introduce more California-based fashion content to the site in an authentic manner and I really like her articles nowadays.

This article in particular spoke about the infamous pink wall on Melrose that everyone stops and takes a picture with. Countless bloggers and influencers have images on their Instagram in front of it, so much so that it is becoming a tourist attraction with many people either being unaware that it is, in fact, the Paul Smith store or simply not caring. I remember when we drove past in February saying “oh look, it’s the Paul Smith wall from Instagram!”. We kept driving, however. The article goes more into depth about how do these images translate into sales for the store and how does the online engagement and geotagging help the brand. Unsurprisingly so, out of the vast majority of people who stopped to take a photo, only a few went into the store and even less actually made a purchase. Mau found that only 0.17% of the images geotagged with this location were posted by people who actually follow the Paul Smith Instagram account, but many still tagged the account in their final images, perhaps hoping to be spotted. It seems crazy to think an entire article (and a rather lengthy one for Fashionista) could be written about a wall outside a store, yet Mau has managed to do it in a way that didn’t come across as vapid and actually went into great detail with social analytics and comments from the consumers and the brand. I encourage you to read it.

“Porter #20 – Bella Hadid shot by Terry Richardson”

I adore this cover. I don’t like the photographer. Bella actually looks really beautiful, albeit slightly sunburnt, and natural. The cover reminds me of something we would see on the newsstands back in the day of the supers, perhaps like an early Gisele Bundchen, and the background is really beautiful. Porter has caught some flack for using Terry Richardson, and I agree with the comments. I thought most magazines had stopped working with him, never mind giving him cover stories. However, I don’t think the cover image nor the accompanying editorial even looks like his work. It is a different style than we are used to seeing and is much softer and prettier. The editorial images that have been released so far look really good too, with this image from “Ignite the Night” standing out to me.

Mary Kate and Ashley: The Accomplished Duo

There is something about a set of twins that makes them infinitely more interesting than regular people. For one, they would never struggle to think of a fun fact about themselves at a group job interview – “I have a twin” always breaks the ice. Secondly, having a twin must be even better than being merely siblings. You would share a bond that can only be achieved by being twins because you are together, and have been together, right from the beginning all the way until the end. Twins are often grouped together for life, which can be tiresome for many but if you’re as business-savvy and as passionate as the Olsen twins, you will reap all the rewards.

Mary Kate and Ashley have been in show business since they were less than a year old and have only grown since then. They started out acting in Full House, sharing a role at just 9 months old, and now, 27 years later, they are at the forefront of fashion. What makes Mary Kate and Ashley different from other child stars is the fact that they created an empire, or their management did, at a time when most other children their age were playing board games and learning basic arithmetic.
Dualstar, their production company which released their movies and television specials, was founded in 1993, when the twins were just 7 years old. Between 1993 and 2004, the Olsens starred in 13 feature films (all of which I watched as a child), 3 television programmes and 2 other video series. During this time they also released a wide range of products to target the pre-teen and teen market including video games, dolls, clothes, home decoration, furniture: practically anything you can think of, they did.

Although the empire that they built was a pretty mean feat to achieve, I’d say they have achieved something even greater than that now. The twins have completely reinvented themselves, so much so that they are almost unrecognisable from who they used to be. They have come to embody American luxury fashion, becoming complete icons in the process of it. I’d say that Mary Kate was the breakout fashion figure of the two, purely because her boho-chic look in the mid 2000s which became hugely fashionable all over the world (helped by Kate Moss, Sienna Miller, Nicole Richie and Rachel Zoe of course). Now, with their hugely successful fashion line The Row, the Olsen twins have proven themselves as a force to be reckoned with in the industry.

From various collections of the past few years
From various collections of the past few years

Now let me clarify one thing, I do not agree with celebrity designers. Those who are already famous that decide to dabble in fashion for a bit of fun on the side without having a true passion for it are a real annoyance to many. They usually have zero formal training, no experience and just the celebrity status to get on by. The Olsen twins, however, have surpassed the celebrity designer stage. The Row has recently celebrated its 10 year anniversary and receives rave reviews almost every season, along with admirable coverage in fashion magazines not just in America but around the world. The Row has established itself as one of the great American brands of the past decade and one that will, hopefully, be around for decades to come.

I think what has made the Olsen twins’ experience in fashion different is that they have stuck it out. This is not just a side-project for them but actually their main and only focus. They no longer think of themselves as actors, their production company has been dormant since 2004, and are fashion people through and through. That is not to say that they didn’t face critics when the first started out, because of course they did. Fashion is a notoriously elitist industry and unless you have worked your way up and paid your dues, you won’t be respected. As the Olsens were celebrities, actors nonetheless, they were faced with hurdles from the start. Yes they had the finance behind them to create something special, but if the fashion press are against you it can be difficult. But they have done something commendable in sticking it out for so long and creating such a good output. They have truly proven themselves in the industry.

Their line, The Row, started out with them trying to create the perfect white t-shirt and has since expanded into something of couture-like proportions. Although technically still ready to wear, the construction and thought that goes into the line is impeccable. Famed for the simplicity yet complex details (a bit of an oxymoron, I get it), The Row produces garments that can be a staple in wardrobes. Mary Kate and Ashley have almost created uniforms for themselves, as that’s what their line really is. They create what they would wear. A key feature of The Row is the neutral colour palette that is used season after season. The straightforwardness of it is so important to the success of the range. And believe me, it is definitely a commercial success. Sold in over 145 stores worldwide (Harvey Nichols in London, Saks in New York to name a couple), the label generates sales of tens of millions each per year. It is also a critical success: collections are lauded by the press and they have received real critical acclaim in the form of awards from the CFDA (Womenswear Designer of the Year 2012, Accessories Designer of the Year 2014). Basically, what I am saying is that there is no stopping Mary Kate & Ashley.

Another factor that separate s The Row from other celebrity lines is the fact that they have positioned themselves firmly in the luxury segment. Price-wise, they could rival Hermes. At $39000 for an alligator skin backpack, their prices aren’t for those who are just dabbling in the high end market. People buy their items, and pay such high prices for them, because they are so good. Well researched, designed and constructed, the pieces are classics that could last for years and become wardrobe staples. You have to remember that the first collection the twins created consisted of just 7 pieces. The effort and singular attention that goes into every individual piece designed along with the hands-on work by the Olsen twins makes the price tag worthy and almost justified. So whilst I am unlikely to be able to afford anything by The Row, I can always dream. The Olsens have gone beyond what anybody could’ve imagined when they set out to become fashion designers. One can only hope that The Row‘s place in the history of American fashion is realised.

Ashley carrying the $39000 backpack
Ashley carrying the $39000 backpack

FURTHER READING

An interview with the duo in Elle magazine this month.

A Wall Street Journal online article.

If The Row is out of your price range, like me, the twins also have a second, more contemporary line called Elizabeth & James. Prices start at around £50 and go up to the late hundreds.