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From celebrity status to fashion designer - Part II: Mary-Kate & Ashley Olsen

By Sara Ehlers


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In the Los Angeles social scene, many celebrities have used their stardom status to reach new heights in the fashion industry. In fashion today, fashion houses, lines, and designers have come from some of Hollywood’s “Most Famous.” Although in this realm of entertainment, some actors and actresses catch their fiery pop-culture stature, it does not always lead to automatic success. However, a couple celebrities have broken this mold into the coveted fashion world (such as Lindsay Lohan, Victoria Beckham, etc.).

More than just launching new lines and designing new concepts, these stars have surpassed through their five-minute fame into well-respected, elitist fashion positions. Whether springing an entirely new vision of fashion or anticipating meticulous details to create a sacrosanct collection, these famed stars have worked their way to become our fashion idols, moguls, and icons. The question remains: How did they get there?

Two celebrities who have made this seamless transition from stardom to fashion-fame are sisters who have worked in the entertainment industry since the early '90s: The Olsen twins.

Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen probably remain the most prominent twins in the fashion industry today. Starting from child acting stardom, the two acquired their fortune by turning their celebrity status into fashion acclaim. Most notably recognized for their appearances on warm-hearted sitcom “Full House,” the two twins created separate, respected identities as fashion moguls in the modern fashion world. It all started with when the two were merely toddlers.

From beginnings as child stars, it was a wary, enduring journey for the two sisters to make their way into fashion history. Although the two weren’t the only fashion stars who got their start in television (not unlike Nicole Richie), the sisters broke through their acting fame in order to pursue a fashion career. Before their mogul status, the two were most commonly known as Michelle Tanner on “Full House.” Starting as babies in 1992, the sisters were cast for the role of the youngest daughter in the Tanner household. The duo continued onward to act in separate roles in subsequent films and series such as “The Adventures of Mary-Kate & Ashley,” “Double, Double, Toil and Trouble,” and “It Takes Two.” Ultimately, as the girls grew into teenagers, they appeared in movies and series as their older selves. These television and movie pieces included “Billboard Dad,” “New York Minute,” and “So Little Time.”

The Olsens transition from “Full House” to The Row

After their acting careers subsided, the two gained control of their company, Dualstar Entertainment Group. The company first started out selling home decor items and fragrances which was sold in more than 5,300 stores worldwide. Upon furthering their passion in fashion design, the Olsens created The Row under Dualstar. Furthermore from their design line, the two also became notable fashion icons for their red carpet and street bohemian, chic style. The two were named controversial for their fashion choices and have been placed on best and worst-dressed lists.

In 2004, Mary-Kate and Ashley retired their silver screen days and moved cross-country from California to New York. The two enrolled in New York University, thus igniting their fashion flame. The Olsens embarked on their first fashion venture: creating the perfect T-shirt. Ashley tested the famous tee on all shapes and sizes of different ages to find a perfect fit and style. From this creation, their now critically-acclaimed fashion line The Row was born. The idea of taking commonalities in fashion such as basics (t-shirts, denim, etc.) and elevating them to a new level of finery and luxury resulted in the birth of The Row. Established officially in 2006, the couture line has become well-coveted among fashionistas worldwide.

The Row reaches high-end status through Olsens designs

The Row includes various pieces for its shoppers. From chic pantsuits, leather leggings, slip dresses, corduroy jackets, and python bags; The Row covers every elevated basic imaginable. The idea was to create high-quality items that are comfortable and wearable. The classic line offers upper-echelon-designer prices, bringing the overall vision of the brand to an eloquent status. As prices average on the higher end, pieces range from approximately 174 to 10,380 dollars.

The Olsens twins honored at CFDA as Womenswear Designers of the Year

Based in New York, The Row is predominantly manufactured in the U.S. (although a select few handbags and knitwear are made in Italy). At the moment, the brand’s sole store is located in Los Angeles. However, the brand is distributed at Saks Fifth Avenue, Barney’s, Net-A-Porter and other high-end retailers. The Row currently operates with 51-200 employees.

Although their most eminent fashion line is The Row, the two have also created other retail collections entitled “Elizabeth and James,” “Olsenboye,” and “StyleMint.” The two have also teamed up with iconic footwear brand Toms as guest designers. In 2012, the two gained recognition from the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA) Fashion Awards. Also that year, the two sisters were honored as Innovator of the Year by Wall Street Journal magazine. In 2007, Forbes ranked the two sisters collectively as the eleventh-richest women in entertainment with a estimated networth of 100 million dollars. As for now, the twins are still in good hands in the world of fashion. This year the dynamic pair were honored once again. Continuing in excellence with their work on The Row, Mary-Kate and Ashley won Womenswear Designer of the Year at the CFDA Awards.

Read Part I: From celebrity status to fashion designer - Part I: Nicole Richie

Ashley Olsen
Lindsay Lohan
Mary-Kate Olsen
Nicole Richie
The Row