Wednesday, 8 July 2009

The Row

Any celebrity line makes me feel a little weary. I admit some of my style icons are celebrities, but it just feels so cheap to cash in on their own style (or a style that has been created for them by their stylist). That's all a celebrity fashion line seemed to do: want colourful and trashy? Go to Jessica Simpson. Want trendy but not too fashion forward? Go to Kate Moss.
So when The Olsen twins - sorry, Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen - announced they were creating two fashion lines it made me a little uneasy. Mary Kate & Ashley's style is difficult to replicate well, and to be honest unless you are a billionaire it's hard to run round purposefully looking like you don't earn any money. However, as there style has developed from the layered NYU years a real dichotomy has developed between their style, and as they have grown older I err on the side of Ashley's classic minimalist look. Something I think her line - The Row has actually created some interesting garments without just aping Ashley's style.

It would have been far too easy to manufacture some plaid shirts and imitation Balenciaga boots and sell them for half the price to their many followers.
The Row was a line I followed the progress of and through reading interviews with Ashley it's clear how much real involvement she has through it. From her Marie Claire interview from 2008 when the interviewer followed her around sourcing materials and changing hemlines it seemed, from the outside at least that Ashley was more involved than the average celebrity producing a clothes line.
So, when an interview with The Hampton's magazine came out this week with Ashley it was interesting to get an update on where exactly her position within The Row was currently at.

"That's the thing about celebrity brands these days," Olsen says. "People think they can define a brand by just a name, but the product has to speak for itself. It doesn't really matter whose name is on it. That's the truth. It's the work behind it. It makes you step up to the plate."

Firstly, the price points within the brand (T-shirts start at $600) have meant a level of exclusivity to the brand, the average Olsen fan simply can't afford these clothes. As a result of this the line has been popping up in Paris Vogue editorials as well as being worn by the likes of Lauren Hutton (who modelled the lookbook) but the clothes have best been modelled by Ms. Olsen herself, who showcased her talent and eye for creating clothes beautifuly at this years Met Gala:

The Row is stocked at Harvey Nichols, La Bon Marche in Paris and Barney's in New York and this, Ashley says it something she is very proud of. For the child star turned fashion icon she also describes her typical day in the office:

Olsen and her team will introduce a men's collection this fall, and she's at work every day from 8 am to 8 pm editing look books, draping garments and running the company. "I understand what it takes to make a brand and to have an eye for product that sells. I don't have the time to step away for a month. I hold myself accountable every day."

If what Ashley says is true then I think she maybe the only celebrity to create such a respected brand, I really hope this will become a model of how to create a celebrity brand - through hard work and building up the brand and not using the celebrity to just promote the brand. Unfortunately, I don't think this is a likely occurrence but I, for one think The Row is one of the most promising new brands there is.

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