Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen — known as "the Olsen twins" or just "the twins" — have spent most of their lives in the fashion industry. As child actresses their massive popularity spawned a tween clothing line which, along with accessories, beauty and dolls, drove their company, Dualstar, towards a stratospheric valuation.
The pair went on to become fashion plates and were constantly photographed to the extent that Mary Kate’s look entered the zeitgeist and was dubbed "hobo-chic."
In 2006, the twins founded their own label, The Row, an exercise in simplicity, taste and luxury which has proven that, though they may be celebrities, the Olsens are genuinely talented designers.
Indeed, The Row, a brand focused on ultra-luxury basics, has quickly become a legitimate must-see at New York Fashion Week and is stocked in the world’s most exclusive stores.
“I think The Row skews toward an older market — an educated consumer who’s been shopping for years. The main thing we thought was lacking in the luxury market were basic pieces that could break up an outfit so you didn’t feel like you were totally dressed in one designer. You could add some ease and comfort, tone it down,” said Mary Kate Olsen.
The brand has expanded to include a range of ready-to-wear, eyewear and handbags, including their now infamous $18,000 black alligator backpack.
The designer’s received fitting recognition for the stratospheric rise in the industry and the very real ability that underpins it in 2012, when the Council of Fashion Designers of America named them Womenswear Designers of the Year.
In 2007 the pair released a contemporary line, Elizabeth & James, named for their siblings. They have also released lines for J.C. Penney, called Olsenboye, and a t-shirt line for Style Mint, and have collaborated with Bik Bok in Scandinavia.
In 2008, the sisters published the book Influence, a compilation of interviews with individuals who had inspired them from the fashion industry.