Ashley and Mary-Kate Olsen were only nine months old when they began tag-teaming the role of Michelle Tanner in the iconic late-80s/mid-90s sitcom Full House. Over the years, their sweet, pixie faces became part of the pop culture fabric of America, and after they left the show they went on to star in a series of adorable coming-of-age films like Passport to Paris and Our Lips Are Sealed.
While many child stars stay linked to Hollywood, the Olsen twins abandoned their acting careers in the early aughts (officially retiring in March 2012), and forged their own paths as formidable fashion designers, building their empire upon a lifelong legacy of fashion trendsetting.
In celebration of their respective birthdays today, Savoir Flair takes a look back at the accomplishments that have made the Olsen twins enduring icons of both the fashion and business world.
A Lifetime of Trendsetting
Being the adorable center of one of television’s most popular family sitcoms transformed the twins into organic style icons. Little girls wanted to dress like them, and as the twins grew and started to branch out into different roles, their fans grew with them.
In an interview with Net-a-Porter, they shared, “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.” From the colorful ensembles of the late 80s and early 90s, the duo matured their looks. Oversized silhouettes, monochrome color palettes, massive sunglasses, and roomy outerwear became their look du jour – one that is still copied to this day.
Producers in More Ways Than One
The twins originally founded their production company Dualstar Entertainment when they were only six years old, but as they got older the company went from selling Olsen-branded books, movies, and preteen clothes to focus on more mature products like furniture design and fragrance.
Incredible Business Acumen
As their personal style aesthetic matured, so did their business. Over the years, they became bonafide merchandising moguls, with their company Dualstar eventually selling one billion dollars of clothing a year.
They started out in the fashion world early on with a junior clothing and a beauty line for Wal-Mart. From their junior line and a tween line at Wal-Mart, to the launch of their first ready-to-wear label in 2007 called Elizabeth and James (named for their sister and brother), the Olsen twins kept evolving their fashion empire.
Their strategic moves proved their business acumen early on, but it was the launch of The Row that really cemented their status as bonafide fashion designers. As the very embodiment of relaxed and chic, The Row’s impeccable fabrics and comfortable silhouettes have made it one of the most in-demand brands by the high-fashion set out there.
When they were only 23 years old, Ashley and Mary-Kate Olsen were asked to join the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA), making them the youngest-ever members to the council. They have also won CFDA awards for their fashion and accessories designs many times over the years.
In addition to being wildly successful fashion designers and business women, the Olsen twins are also the authors of the luxury coffee table book Influence, in which they interviewed fellow fashion luminaries like Karl Lagerfeld, Christian Louboutin, and Diane von Furstenberg, who each spoke with candor about their perspectives on fashion and art. The photography in the book is notably beautiful, and the release was critically well-received.
“Influence” by Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen