Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen Are Infiltrating Pop Culture and You Definitely Missed It
A brief investigation into The Row's surprising celebrity pivot.
In the last 15 years, the word best used to describe actors-turned-fashion-mogul twins Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen would be elusive. Since starting their comically pricey fashion brand The Row in 2011, the sisters have given up their on-screen careers in favor of a quieter life filled with oversized jackets, cigarettes, and private events.
The Row is an award-winning brand (the CFDA bestowed the Olsens with the Womenswear Designers of the Year in 2012 and 2016) known for being defiantly simple. Each season you'll find a cashmere sweater that goes with everything, a pair of versatile black trousers, and a button-down that is tailored so perfectly it looks like it was made for the wearer. They don't do big flashy runway shows with celebrity-filled front seats, their fashion week moment is notoriously early and usually only hosts a few editors and buyers. You never see them courting the celebrity-obsessed side of the fashion world with advertisements or red carpet moments. To the Met Gala, they bring themselves.
Well, at least this all used to be the case until late 2020. In November, Kendall Jenner posted a mirror selfie wearing, as she put it in the caption, "The Row head to toe." The look was true to the brand's classic aesthetic: all black with high-waisted trousers, a button-down, and a turtleneck, but it was a different look for Jenner. At first, you could argue that she was investing in capsule pieces, or maybe changing her style toward something simpler, but it quickly became clear that there was more to this story.
A few months later, in March following a report from The Cut that the brand was facing financial and structural issues in the wake of the pandemic, Bella Hadid posted about them, too. On Instagram, she added literal flash to the otherwise discreet brand with a photo of herself wearing a pair of white The Row pants while lifting up her shirt.
Then, a month later, Zoë Kravitz posted a photo of her and Jonah Hill, both donning muted looks from the brand; Kravitz wore a slip skirt and sweater, Hill wore a pair of black pants and a black shirt. It was a titillating photo gaining a lot of attention because, well ... for starters Kravitz and Hill look hot together. But also, it appeared that they may be working with Mary Kate and Ashley in some capacity. The fruits of that have yet to be seen, though.
Gifting or even paying celebrities to wear clothing is nothing new in the fashion industry. It gives brands exposure to new audiences that may not be seeking them out. So if you're saying to yourself at this point 'it's not outlandish that the sisters decided to work with very fashion adjacent celebrities and subtly sneak their pieces on Instagram,' I have more proof that the celebrity pivot of The Row is here to stay. On May 11, all three Haim sisters (Este, left, Danielle, center, and Alana, right) stepped onto the carpet of the Brit Awards wearing coordinating belted trouser looks from the brand.
Sure, working with the elusive (there's that word again) twins could be something of a status symbol for celebrities, but I think there is more to it than that. It was certainly interesting that they were able to skirt the influencer-to-sales pipeline for so many years, but the separation between famous people and fashion is gone. And with the above as proof, nothing, not even the mysterious intrigue of Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen, can escape it.