Ashley and Mary-Kate Olsen Talk Their Grungy Style



Ashley and Mary-Kate Olsen on their style dubbed by media as ‘homeless chic’: “That moment [first years at NYU] 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? . . . I think it was probably that. And laziness.”


Ashley and Mary-Kate Olsen on the design process for The Row: 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.”
Ashley and Mary-Kate Olsen on The Row‘s brand consistency: MK: “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.”
Ashley and Mary-Kate Olsen on their long hours spent managing multiple brands: A: “I don’t think it’s the creative process that has ever gotten to us. More than anything, it’s about trying to find balance with work and how we can personally stay balanced while having our corporations grow, and I think that’s been the biggest thing that we are constantly aware of. We have to put boundaries on scheduling. We work crazy hours every week, so it’s been more about figuring out when we need to put our foot down. ‘We can’t add this extra meeting. It’s one too many meetings in a day; push it later.’ So it’s been about that. And with The Row, it’s about how to elevate the process with growth without putting too much on the overhead.”
Ashley and Mary-Kate Olsen on being women designers: A: “I think the way being women has helped us in our designs is that we do a lot of research on what women like, what women don’t like.”