Olsen Twins: How We Earned Fashion Community’s Respect


Their clothes have been worn by the likes of First Lady Michelle Obama and Carey Mulligan, but according to Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen, it took a long time for the fashion community to take them seriously.

"Initially, I wanted someone else to front the brand," Mary-Kate tells Newsweek of The Row, which generates an estimated $10-12 million annually. "We wanted someone else to rep it. But we couldn't lie."

Buyers were skeptical, questioning everything from where the garments were manufactured to the high costs of production.

"With the retailers, we dealt with some tough cookies," Ashley recalls. "Their attitude was, 'Who do these girls think they are?'"

"It definitely took time to earn people's respect," Mary-Kate adds.

Fortunately, the 24-year-old twins are finally being recognized for their design achievements: they received their first ever CDFA nomination this year. (They will face off against Joseph Altuzarra and Prabal Gurung in the Swarovski Award for Womenswear category).

Designing quality merchandise wasn't enough for the stylish duo; they also wanted to make sure the majority of their collection was produced on American soil.

"I really believe in our being able to create here and utilize the skills that people have here," Ashley explains. "The skill set is here. Our main issue is that some of the machinery is gone, so some knitwear is produced in Italy. But whether it's clothing or cars, I believe in manufacturing as close to home as possible."

"We really want The Row to be an American luxury brand," she continues. "We believe in not just American by representation but American by make."

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