Have you noticed an uptick in Mary-Kate and Ashley headlines these past few days? It’s all because of one interview, with the WSJ, in which the twins discuss their new menswear line for The Row.
The main headline coming out is that they are in a sibling “marriage.” To that I say: duh. They are sisters, twins, business partners and long-time collaborators. The most shocking revelation that came out of this interview is that Ashley is considering moving to LA, while Mary-Kate is firmly a New Yorker. Beyond that, “The Olsens Twins are Tight” is not exactly breaking news.
But anytime I can talk about the Olsens I will, because they occupy a very unique space in entertainment: former child stars, current fashion designers, millennials who trade in elite sophistication rather than social media affirmation. They are wholly unique but have been famous for years on end.
By giving so little away, the Olsens have managed to direct most of the attention they receive to their business. Luxury line The Row continues to grow, and in 2016 they took full control of their contemporary line, Elizabeth and James (which, no doubt because of price point and retail availability, sells more units than The Row). Both are done in-house in New York, meaning this isn’t a licensing deal, it’s very hands-on.
In most interviews, the Olsens focus on their work, their relationship to the work, their relationship with one another at work – that is how they’ve earned the reputation for being skittish with the press and intensely private. They are, for sure, private. But they are very good at cultivating their reputation as private people.
“We're not product pushers," Ashley explained. "I don't know if it's because of the way we grew up—we just don't like talking about ourselves or talking about what we're doing...It's not really our approach."
She says this while sitting for an interview to promote a new product line. But it’s also entirely believable that Ashley and Mary-Kate don’t think they are “selling” but rather showing, explaining and celebrating the brand’s growth.
This isn’t all they do to sell – they’ve popped up on Instagram… just once! They attend the Met Gala. They attend the CFDA Fashion Awards. They will occasionally show up at a gala in support of the arts, or a magazine party. In May 2018, they did an interview with Vogue Italia. In March 2017, they did a comprehensive interview and photo shoot for The Edit.
As I noted at the time, their power isn’t in their privacy, it’s in their discipline. It’s in their ability to live aspirational lives and not tell everyone about it. I have no doubt that the Olsens surround themselves with beautiful things – art and cashmere and vintage china and really luxurious candles from France – but their satisfaction doesn’t come with telling us about what they have. So many celebrities want to be “lifestyle teachers,” helping all the slovenly poors to not be so gross. The Olsens don’t want to tell you where to get a coffee colonic or how to get in an ab blasting workout at lunch. They don’t even want a lot of people buying their clothes (if they did, they’d do an economical mass market line). Part of what makes them so interesting is their total disinterest in catering to an audience. They Olsens don’t need us, which makes us continue to care about and follow them even more. What’s more captivating than unrequited love, draped in a black caftan.