Monday, Apr. 02, 2012

Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen

Ashley and Mary-Kate Olsen have managed to leverage child stardom into a legitimate career in fashion. Despite having no formal design education, the 25-year-old twins now preside over a veritable fashion empire and have transformed into style icons themselves.

The Olsens' first mass-market clothing label landed in Walmart stores when they were 12. Years later, Ashley's quest to find the perfect T-shirt led to the founding of The Row (named in an homage to London's Savile Row), which is a hit among professional women who desire quality pieces that are luxurious but not flashy. The sisters later launched Elizabeth and James, a hipper, bohemian line, followed by Olsenboye, their affordable collection at JCPenney, and Stylemint, which began as an online T-shirt venture.

During a stint at New York University, the twins popularized the "boho chic" look with a layered mix of high- and low-end clothes, chunky jewelry and oversized sunglasses. Though it has sometimes been derided as "homeless chic," much of the fashion world jumped — and remains — on board. Whether it's through the contemporaries who emulate their personal style or more-mature women who favor their high-end labels, Ashley and Mary-Kate's influence cuts a wide swath.