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Not so long ago, Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen were everywhere. Movies, TV, magazines, books, dolls, clothes-you name it, the Olsen twins were part of it. Fast forward a decade and some change and the Olsens have made themselves scarce. They're not on social media and rarely seen at public events, and now it's little sister Elizabeth Olsen who has found the spotlight (she stars in WandaVision). But the Olsen twins' fashion label The Row is doing gangbusters, and in a rare interview with Vice's i-D ("We're a bit out of practice," Mary-Kate joked), Mary-Kate and Ashley reflect on removing themselves from the public eye and starting a huge fashion label in secret.
"I don't know how conscious we were of what we were doing at that time, to be really honest," Ashley said of starting The Row with a signature T-shirt back in 2003. "We had just moved to New York. We were 18 years old and I think what we did know was that we wanted to take that time to take a break from what we were previously doing and to explore things that interested us, and explore what life has to offer...We wanted to explore making something of ourselves."
They went into creating The Row fully intending to not be the faces. "It was really about the product," Ashley told i-D, and Mary-Kate later added, "[we are] discreet people-that's how we were raised."
Having now been in business for well over a decade, Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen have gotten the fashion business down to a science. "Every season you become a little smarter. You learn something new. You push yourself," Mary-Kate said. "You push your teams to explore, to dig deeper or wider."
And though they've shifted industries, the Olsen twins still rely on each other to produce the best work they can. "We like working together and we like having that dialogue," Ashley said. "You know, we definitely go by intuition and instinct and it can either confirm that feeling, or if we're both not feeling right about something, for some reason, we just don't do it. Our instincts are kind of the same."
She continued, "But I think what's great is that we have each other to lean on," adding that they're both grateful that they're able to "divide and conquer" daily tasks.
The focus is now on the fashion rather than the twins themselves, and Mary-Kate and Ashley hope to keep it that way.