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Will the Olsen twins’ fashion label survive the pandemic?

March 3, 2021, 1:49 PM UTC
Jenni Kayne Fall 2007 - Front Row
Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen attend the Jenni Kayne Fall 2007 fashion show during Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week at The Salon in Bryant Park February 7, 2007 in New York City.
Peter Kramer—Getty Images for IMG

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Good morning, Broadsheet readers! Neera Tanden withdraws her cabinet nomination, New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand responds to allegations of sexual harassment against Gov. Andrew Cuomo, and we ponder the fate of the Olsen twins’ fashion company. Have a good Wednesday.

– Twinning. What will fashion look like in a post-COVID world? We’re all living in sweats and slippers now—and, at least in my case, getting very used to the elastic-waistband lifestyle—but it’s impossible to imagine that we won’t someday return to the world of workwear.

This deep-dive from The Cut asks what our sartorial future will mean for The Row, the fashion line founded by Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen. If you’re not familiar with label, here’s how the former fashion director of Barneys describes it: “If you’re a super-wealthy woman in New York? The way we go to Uniqlo — they go to The Row.”

I personally am not in the market for $1,000 sweaters, but I do have a fascination with the Olsen sisters. From their star turn on Full House to their tween empire of straight-to-VHS movies to their days as tabloid fodder NYU students, they’ve been famous and commodified their entire lives. Yes, they’re very rich and very privileged. But we’ve seen what so often happens to child stars, and I doubt many celeb-watchers would have guessed that the sisters would grow into the founders of a respected, multi CFDA-winning fashion line (and especially one that doesn’t put their celebrity front-and-center).

So, will The Row survive the pandemic? There are plenty of reasons to suggest the line might falter—Barneys, its largest vendor, going under; layoffs; a notably white staff; and questions about whether its very subdued aesthetic (“It is chic in the excellent, unfaultably appropriate way that reminds you that true chic may be the apotheosis of boring”) will jibe with the mood of a populace finally out of lockdown and ready to let loose. Yet, reflecting on what the Olsens have accomplished so far (they’re now all of 34!), I wouldn’t bet against them.

Kristen Bellstrom

The Broadsheet, Fortune’s newsletter for and about the world’s most powerful women, is coauthored by Kristen Bellstrom, Emma Hinchliffe, and Claire Zillman. Today’s edition was curated by Emma Hinchliffe


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