>> They just pocketed their first CFDA Award nomination, but it hasn't been an easy road. With the stigma attached to celebrity lines, Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen say retailers were originally skeptical about The Row and whether they were actually designing it themselves. “People would drill us about fabric, where we’d make it,” Mary-Kate told Vogue in the magazine's April 2011 issue. “The first season, customers bought it, so the stores came back. And drilled us again.”
Even though they were never formally trained, the Olsens maintain that their design education started long ago. "We had a collection with Walmart at twelve," Ashley notes, "Which was the upper tier of the tween market. It was before celebrity designers.” “And we were really designing it,” adds Mary-Kate. “It would be jeans, a bit bohemian, or with a little blazer. It was really fashion-forward.”
Now, with The Row, the Olsens are all about the finishing touches: they produce gloves with fingertips made in high-tech treated leather, so you don't have to take them off to use a touchscreen. And, they just debuted their first bags on The Row's Fall 2011 runway, which are finished with rectangular brass snaps boasting tiny The Row logos — "I’m obsessed with branding," Ashley says — and spans, Vogue reports, a "supremely supple, superdeluxe range of crocodile and snakeskin backpacks, computer bags, and clutches. One design, which ranges from mini-shoulder bags to totes, has two compartments sandwiched together, with textured skin on one side, suede on the other. It’s called the Twin."
So what does the future hold for the twins? “The thing about us,” Mary-Kate says, “is we think big. Huge.” Ashley, meanwhile, gets a little more specific: “I want to run a studio. 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.”