While most of us who came of age in the ’90s would consider Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen the prototypical actresses of that era, the twin sisters are a far cry from your average millennial. Even once you get past the whole 30-year-old multi-millionaire business mogul thing, not only are these young women extremely private, they aren’t even on any social media platform let alone engaging in our generation’s favorite pastime of taking selfies. But obvious differences aside, in a new interview with Net-A-Porter’s The Edit, the Olsens insist that deep down they’re really not so different from me or you, working hard to be taken seriously in the industry and strike a balance between their bustling work life and complicated personal life.
The Olsens sat down with the magazine to discuss the new direction that they’ve taken their mid-range contemporary brand Elizabeth and James in since bringing the label back in-house after eight years working with a New York-based manufacturer. While the sisters also run a much pricier, high end line, The Row, Mary-Kate says, “we like to say that Elizabeth and James is the new luxury. It’s the idea that you can still have fashion, great fabrics and great fits at a lower price point.” And they’ve managed to make both lines an astounding success without so much as a single social media follower.
While staying away from Twitter and Instagram is a nearly impossible feat for pretty much everyone in this day and age, Mary-Kate and Ashley make it look easy and actually consider their choice to opt out a blessing as it allows them to stay focused on creating and, as Ashley puts it, “Because we don’t dive into that whole world [of social media] and we don’t have Facebook, we’ve never been connected to our fans in that way. We’ve stayed quite sheltered in that sense.”
But even if they were avidly sharing their private lives with the world, neither sister would likely end up snapchatting the day away as Mary-Kate says, “We’re lucky [working hard] comes quite naturally for us. We don’t need so much time to sit and think and ponder. But then I have a husband [Olivier Sarkozy], two step-kids and a life; I have to go home and cook dinner. I ride horses on the weekends. You find the thing that helps you relax and if you don’t have it, you have to look for it. Or you get burned out and then you’re not productive.” Sage words whether you’re running a fashion empire or just trying to get dressed in the morning.
As for their total professional rebirth, from tween film and TV darlings into legitimate, respected forces in the fashion industry, Mary-Kate thinks the transformation makes perfect sense given that, “When we were younger, being in the public eye was almost part of our role and responsibility – to set the trends at that time or be ahead of fashion.” As for the aesthetic that defines them now, the designer continues, “We talk about the mother and the daughter, the comfortable and sexy, masculine and feminine. It’s a balance of both.” But at the end of the day, it’s really all about making women feel good. “We just want to help women feel however they want to feel. Every once in a while, we want to change our perfume or our haircut; we want to wear heels or flats. We just like to switch it up,” Mary-Kate says. “That’s the beauty of clothes.” And a beautiful message to come right on the heels of this International Women’s Day.