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Retailers Deem The Row "Perfect," But Don't Expect Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen to Hold a Fashion Show

Retailers Deem The Row "Perfect," But Don't Expect Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen to Hold a Fashion Show

>> Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen captured the hearts of fashion obsessives through The Row from the first collection — but who could have guessed that they would also win the heart Cathy Horyn, who prides herself on picking apart Riccardo Tisci at Givenchy, another industry favorite?

Horyn blogged about her interview with the Olsens yesterday, and today comes her article, in which Jim Gold, chief executive of Bergdorf Goodman and Barneys fashion director Julie Gilhart both deem The Row "perfect": Gold because The Row "offers the perfect blank . . . so many designers are intent on the next great trend that some of the basics are neglected" and Gilhart because of the timing — more and more women are looking for high-quality, classic pieces.  They probably also like that they never have to put The Row on sale, since the line doesn't go out of style.

The majority of The Row's customers are 35 to 60, Ashley says, adding that the line will break even this year. Annual sales are expected to be 30 percent, and total sales are estimated at $10 million — for comparison's sake, Alexander Wang just told W his business is around $20 million, which W called "small."  The Row is produced entirely in New York, with mostly Italian fabrics, and is designed with a precision concerning proportion — a black blazer, for example, has a high armhole, Horyn writes, "because the Olsens liked the way Paris couture jackets fit, with high armholes and narrow sleeves that make your arms look even skinnier and longer."  Neither of the Olsens are interested in staging a fashion show.

No tank tops for Mary-Kate »

Style icons they may be, but Ashley says The Row is "not defined by [her or Mary-Kate]." Her sister adds: “Also, I think you design things because maybe it’s not you . . . sometimes you design something that you die to wear or love to see somebody else wear.”  For instance, The Row boasts tanks, but Mary-Kate says she never wears tank tops, counting them among her "pet peeves."

Cathy, meanwhile, is enamored with the Olsens' workspace:

Despite being very rich women, [they] have clearly chosen not to spend money on decor. The furniture is nicked, the windows mossy with grime, and the five employees who share the two-room office have to step around a stack of fabric bolts. At least a tropical plant on one of the desks offered a bright spot of vitality. 'It’s fake,' Ashley said.

And she likens the atmosphere to a time "before big brands, indeed before celebrity."  Their production manager Joe Karban, a veteran of Ralph Lauren's design studio, among others, agrees:

 “It’s much like the old days at Polo. The kids on the team are really passionate about making clothes. How do you set a proper sleeve? How does a fabric perform? It’s the art of making clothes as opposed to making everything cookie-cutter. Plus everything Mary-Kate and Ashley do turns to gold. Lots of people in the industry are worried about their excess inventory. My reorder business is phenomenal.”
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