At a time when so many are in a mad rush for the latest technology, to
binge the latest TV series or to become politically active – something that is so deliberately
simple, yet beautiful, should be marveled at.
Designers around the world are constantly looking for their next muse to spark their
creativity. They want to conjure something so otherworldly and push themselves past what
they are most known for. Nevertheless, other designers strive simply for excellence.
Starting out as a personal project to create the perfect t-shirt; Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen
founded The Row. To most people a t-shirt is just a t-shirt and that’s that – what else is there
to think about? Yet to some, the simpler something is, the more there is too seriously think
about in order to achieve perfection. More than a decade later, the Olsen twins have proved
themselves as designers; cemented The Row’s aesthetic as minimal and shown movements
only happen in minute details.
Subtlety isn’t a word that seems to register with Hollywood and red carpets; where ‘the
bigger the better’ seems to be the attitude. So it almost seems nonsensical to create a brand
that deals in subtleties. Yet having launched their careers at an early age, it would be
reasonable to say that their fast maturity was inevitable. But it could simply be their
Their constant search for perfection has led to successful collections, including one
presented at New York Fashion Week in September 2019. The subtleties and minimalism of
their collection appeals to women who aren’t constantly on the hunt for brands and
outlandish handbags; and don’t measure their success by their social media following. So
arguably, The Row appeals to many women. Yet only a small number of those women can
actually afford it. There’s little one can buy, from The Row, for under £1,000; which for many
people, make The Row an unreachable fantasy.
The argument comes down to asking the question: what are we willing to pay for
perfection? Is there something you would pay any amount for if you found the perfect
version of it? What about jeans that fit perfectly and made you feel incredible? Or a coat
that’s timeless? Even a simple t-shirt that’s fresh and crisp and never loses its colour. And
what if you know the seamstresses are treated and paid fairly? Can you even put a price on
It’s not without saying that The Row don’t always produce impeccable clothing. There are
only so many ways you can change a black jacket and then figure out that also comes down
to the women wearing the clothes. Perhaps though, in an industry where over-the-top
designs can often be seen as superior, minimalism might be something to applaud and
Words, Will Ritchie – @ritchie_will