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Olsen Spins

The Olsen Twins are making high-priced minimalist fashions for older women, reports Ray A. Smith in The Wall Street Journal (5/15/14). The Twins — Mary-Kate and Ashley — are now 27, and a lifetime away from their starring role in Full House. They’ve also evolved their fashion empire, The Row, from a T-Shirt design, which led to "the blazer and then the legging." Perhaps their most famous — and controversial — item was the "$39,000 alligator backpack that The Row began selling in 2011," which "reportedly sold out."

The T-Shirt, by the way, which Mary-Kate describes as "perfect," sells for $280, and that blazer runs about $1,300. But after eight years in business, "high-end retailers call the line a success," and the Twins just opened their first store, in Los Angeles. The intended customer is in her 40s or 50s, says Ashley, adding "it really could be any age. She’s — the women that I know are — sophisticated, very educated within the world of fashion." But The Row’s image is set by "runway models from decades past," such as Lauren Hutton, 70.

Savile Row is the inspiration for The Row’s name, "the idea of made-to-measure clothing," says Mary-Kate. The question, for some, is why ostensibly simple items cost so much. Mary-Kate starts the answer by noting their clothing is "made in the US," and Ashley finishes the thought by saying "we’re competitively priced." Their handbags are pricey, meanwhile, because they’re made in Italy. Many of their bags also feature expensive linings such as linen, and are made with "rare and exclusive materials," like crocodile, for instance.