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The Row is Reinventing Menswear

The Row is Reinventing Menswear

Holy moly I am SO excited!

Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen, child actors turned fashion gods, are expanding their magic touch to the realm of menswear.

The twins founded The Row back in 2006, naming the brand after Savile Row–the storied street in London known for its exquisite bespoke men's tailoring. Yet, until now and despite the name choice, the duo had never opted to permanently delve into men's clothing.

The reason for my excessive excitement is my knowledge of the stringent standards the Olsen's uphold for their line. Without even feeling the clothes yet, I know that their quality will be almost unparalleled. 

This level of excellence is already apparent through the process by which the designers started the men's line. They have spent the past two years traveling the globe, inspecting seams and counting stitches. In a scheme which one would expect to see in the films they have starred in rather than in real life, the twins sent identical instructions and materials to different factories, and evaluated what came back. Many locations outright failed, some did just what was asked, and a few went above and beyond, making slight improvements by perfecting the stitching around a collar or crafting a subtly better curve on a cuff. These were the ones that stood out.

  A first look at a pair of The Row jeans, made in the U.S.A.

A first look at a pair of The Row jeans, made in the U.S.A.

In the end, the twins chose factories in France for shirts, Japan for suiting, Italy for knitwear and the U.S. for denim and tees. This international approach is highly unusual for a high-end line, but for the Olsens it makes perfect sense for their brand; "people have their strengths. We like to utilize them."

To the untrained eye, a The Row piece is hard to spot. There is only a hint of branding–on the underside of ties, tiny hand-stitched threads spell out The Row. It takes an appreciation of quality hemlines and expert stitching to clock their pieces from afar.

This lack of branding is, counter-intuitively, part of what makes The Row stand out. In an era defined by brand culture–I'm talking Gucci belts, Balenciaga sneakers, Supreme tees–subtle tailoring doesn't seem to be in Vogue. Mary-Kate and Ashley see this as an opportunity. 

I don’t think people are taking big risks in menswear. It’s funny, because this is more of a risk than putting words on a T-shirt. Who knew that black, gorgeous, perfectly fitted suits would be a risk?
— Mary-Kate & Ashley Olsen
  A The Row overcoat, whose fine-tuned tailoring took years to perfect.

A The Row overcoat, whose fine-tuned tailoring took years to perfect.

This thinking has seeped right into the ethos of the brand. The label’s Instagram account rarely posts photos of its own wears. Instead, the designers' speak to their inspirations, showcasing an art piece by Georges Jouve, a flatware service by Pierre Legrain or a photo of Jean Cocteau. Similarly, their stores don't just sell clothes, but also furnishings, artwork and even vintage jewelry.

The Olsens feel that growth, in and of itself, isn’t the goal. As they succinctly put it, "we never started the company with the intention of it being a fashion brand. It really was just a passion project." I only wish all my passion projects turned out quite so well!

Starting in October (yes - just one month away), a full range of suits, knitwear, coats, jeans, tees, footwear and accessories will make its way into the company's two retail locations, as well as select stores around the globe (such as Bergdorf Goodman, Dover Street Market, Mr Porter). They will be expensive, almost unjustly so, but a deeper look at the production process provides clear justification for the number of zeros on each price tag.

  The Row sweaters are all knitted in Italy.

The Row sweaters are all knitted in Italy.

All Images Via Vogue & The Wall Street Journal.

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