The Olsens Enter the Eyewear Game

The Olsens launch eyewear collection for spring under their luxury label The Row, produced in licensed partnership with Linda Farrow Eyewear.

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They’ve set trends with their bold eyewear style and now Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen can step out in their own shades.

The designers are launching an eyewear collection for spring under their luxury label The Row, produced in licensed partnership with Linda Farrow Eyewear.

This story first appeared in the October 13, 2009 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

Retailing from $325 to $390, the collection features four styles: a classic metal aviator, an oversize square frame, vintage-inspired brow-line rims and a pair of round shades taken from the Sixties. The company declined to specify financial expectations or anticipated points of sale, noting only that it will target its current retailers, including Barneys New York and Bergdorf Goodman.

“We’re testing the market first and obviously these are four very different silhouettes, so we’re seeing what people are responding to and we’ll open up a couple more silhouettes for fall,” Ashley Olsen said. “We tried to find certain pieces that look good on more than one face, to pay close attention to how they fit certain faces and make them wearable at the same time.”

The Olsens are no strangers to the accessories market. Other than making their own mark with innovative, sometimes over-the-top self-styling, the pair also collaborated with Robert Lee Morris on a costume jewelry collection under their contemporary label Elizabeth and James. They may add additional categories to The Row, such as footwear and handbags, but added that for now, they have their “hands full.”

“Designing eyewear was definitely more complicated than we thought, and of course we wanted to be extremely hands-on,” said Mary-Kate. “From what I understand, the first year with eyewear is figuring out what the process will be like for us specifically. I think everyone does it differently, whether it’s looking through old materials or archives or working with drawings and measurements.”

London-based Linda Farrow produces eyewear for edgier, niche fashion lines, such as Bernard Wilhelm, Dries Van Noten and Jeremy Scott. Managing director Simon Jablon said the firm prefers to partner with labels that have “different personalities,” adding The Row was a compelling opportunity.

“[The Row is] selling in the best stores and is worn by people who are decision makers, so for our eyewear to be associated with them is fantastic,” Jablon said. “Mary-Kate and Ashley know what they want, so it doesn’t feel like a standard licensing deal in that they really are hands-on. They’re also fashion forward and innovative, which makes it exciting for us.”

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