Ashley Olsen, in stilettos and wearing Ray-Bans, navigated a brick courtyard to a banquette in the back of the Polo Lounge at the Beverly Hills Hotel here, and diners did discreet double takes at the sight of the petite blonde.
BEVERLY HILLS — Ashley Olsen, in stilettos and wearing Ray-Bans, navigated a brick courtyard to a banquette in the back of the Polo Lounge at the Beverly Hills Hotel here, and diners did discreet double takes at the sight of the petite blonde.
This was a new Ashley Olsen, evolving her fashion identity to a sophisticated, sexy look that also is a business strategy as she and her twin sister, Mary-Kate, orchestrate the full launch of their new high-end label, The Row.
Carrying a vintage Fendi crocodile tote and pairing a tight black Wolford tank dress worn as a miniskirt with a snug chocolate-colored leather jacket by Rick Owens, Olsen upturned the bag lady look she helped popularize.
For fall, Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen, with the help of four staff members in production, sales and public relations, doubled the number of The Row's offerings to include $3,220 Tuscan lamb-fur coats, $1,700 cashmere tuxedo jackets with three-quarter sleeves, $875 banded strapless dresses and $360 legging-style pants.
They also expanded distribution worldwide to 29 premium retailers, including 10 Corso Como in Milan, Maria Luisa in Paris, Harvey Nichols in London, Jeffrey in Atlanta, Isetan in Tokyo, DNA in Saudi Arabia and Holt Renfrew in Toronto and Vancouver. In comparison, the spring collection featured 28 knitwear pieces, such as silk Modal tanks retailing for $150 and floor-length Modal cardigans selling for $655, sold at Barneys New York across the U.S. and Maxfield in Los Angeles.
Fourteen years after founding their company, Dualstar, Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen face the challenge of evolving the business as they grow older and new competitors, such as pop-star/actress Hilary Duff, launch their own clothing brands targeted at tween girls. Privately held Dualstar, based in Culver City, Calif., doesn't disclose sales figures, but an industry expert in 2004 estimated that the company rang up $1 billion in retail sales in almost a dozen countries.
Unlike their tween brand, mary-kateandashley, which markets clothes, furniture, cosmetics and other products to mass retailers, including Wal-Mart, Claire's and Albertsons, The Row is the first business that the former child stars, who turn 21 on June 13, didn't license out to another company. Estimated by Forbes magazine to have earned $40 million last year, the sisters are financing and running The Row by themselves because they want more control.
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