Unlike some celebrity clothing designers, Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen are involved with each aspect of the apparel-making process.
As the head designers of three separate clothing lines — The Row, Elizabeth & James and Olsenboye — the 24-year-old sisters have brought in $1 billion in retail sales through their company, Dualstar. Still, Mary-Kate and Ashley tell Vogue's April issue that buyers weren't always so supportive of their fashion venture.
"We hired a showroom and talked buyers through," Ashley recalls. "People would drill us about fabric, where we'd make it," Mary-Kate adds. "The first season, customers bought it, so the stores came back. And drilled us again."
Still, the twins realized that with no formal design training under their belts, they were in for a tough sell.
"It's a fair question," Ashley notes, "but Dualstar started when we were six. And we had a collection with Walmart at 12, which was the upper tier of the tween market. It was before celebrity designers."
"And we were really designing it," Mary-Kate points out. "It would be jeans, a bit bohemian, or with a little blazer. It was really fashion-forward."
These days, the well-established sisters are finally being recognized for their achievements: they received their first ever CDFA nomination this year. (The twins will face off against Joseph Altuzarra and Prabal Gurung in the Swarovski Award for Womenswear category).
"It's classicist, no-bother stuff. I live in it," raves celebrity fan Lauren Hutton, who once modeled for The Row's look book. "It's beautifully tailored in a modern way. It just fits, chicly. You know, I look up to them."
With rave reviews and celebrity fans like Carey Mulligan, the former child stars show no signs of slowing down in the near future.
"I want to run a studio," Ashley announces. "I'd probably like to manage other people on their brands. It could be an artist. A young designer. It could be an existing brand."
"The thing about us," Mary-Kate interjects," is we think big. Huge."
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