It’s not uncommon for women to envy the tailored cuts of menswear, but when men find a women’s brand that appeals to their sensibilities, well, that’s something. And that’s exactly what motivated Ashley and Mary-Kate Olsen, the sisters behind the highly successful women’s brand the Row, to launch their new men’s line.
Some background: A dozen years ago, the duo (whom you might remember for their more famous stint as child actors on the ’90s sitcom Full House) launched their fashion label, which quickly gained a cult following for its languid approach to women’s tailoring in fine fabrics. The sisters didn’t bend toward fleeting trends and fashion moments—and it wasn’t just women who noticed. So the Olsens quietly tested their menswear concepts, hanging a small rack of men’s clothing amid a sea of women’s options in their New York and LA stores.
Last fall, they finally went all in with their first collection of core men’s wardrobe staples. With it, they are working hard to prove they know what men want. Case in point: Their limited options avoid the paradox of choice that more overblown collections saddle guys with. It’s just enough to stock a perfectionist’s wardrobe, with a minimalist array of coats, suiting, and shirting, a dabble of denim, knits, and leather goods—and nary a conspicuous logo to be found. Tiny stitches that spell “The Row” on the inside of neckties are about as close as you’ll get to big branding. The sisters call it “anonymous” fashion, and it’s a welcome reprieve from the current obsession with hyped-up, brazen logos.
The collection’s well-made simplicity no doubt fills a void. Fabrics feel instantly luxurious to the touch. T-shirts in double-sided jersey and blends of cashmere and pima cotton turn a lazy staple into a not-so-basic essential. Suits are a focus—coming in fabrics like a wool-mohair gabardine and a super 180 cashmere—but jeans, knitwear, and sport coats scratch the itch for more casual looks. Two winter-coat styles in four fabrics—super 180 wool, chinchilla cashmere, felted double cashmere, and bonded wool cotton—drive home the Olsens’ idea that less is more. You don’t really need more than a few great options to choose from.
You begin to grasp the idea: The Row’s are the kind of clothes that clearly come from an obsession with tactility—the brand begins and ends with fabrics—but its success in creating defiantly untrendy pieces is something that perhaps only an outsider (or rather a pair of them) could achieve. With a few more seasons under their belt, the Olsens might just have a new house to call their legacy.