It’s all coming full circle now that The Row – luxury fashion brand by the Olsen twins famous for cashmere sweaters – is launching a menswear collection for the Fall 2018 season. First, because the brand’s namesake Savile Row is being honored now . And second, because this is the twin’s proper go around menswear.
A few years ago, the brand sold bits and bobs of men’s pieces here and there (in Spring 2011) to generally lackluster success. Which, really, I think was down to the fact that The Row had not yet fully synthesized its own identity. It had played around the luxury playground but not yet found the ascetic minimalism and ultra-discreet but sumptuous fabrics that would become its calling card. Anyway, fast forward to today and The Row is an established quiet powerhouse for those looking for thousand-dollar cashmere sweaters and unembellished basics made to last.
How this translates to menswear in the current fashion climate will be interesting. They are proposing a quiet luxury, assured in its own details, construction and design. Not dissimilar to, say, Veronique Nichanian’s consistent moda for Hermès men’s ready to wear or the sublime plainness of Haider Ackermann’s short-lived tenure at Berluti. It’s certainly going to be priced the same.
In an exclusive interview – and photo shoot! – with the Wall Street Journal to unveil the news, Mary-Kate relates the absence of beautifully cut suits to the needs of her husband, Olivier Sarkozy, who she calls a “habitual suit wearer”.
This line is a long time coming, first beginning development in 2016. The search for perfection is not unlike the brand’s genesis, which involved creating the perfect t-shirt. As in, correct in every way and without need for improvement. That same philosophy’s been applied to their tailoring, taking production to Japan where a new method of lining was employed. The result is a lithe and more fluid fall to suiting, as opposed to horsehair or canvased linings more commonly used in tailoring. The WSJ reports that factories in France were selected for shifting, Italy for knitwear, and the United States for t-shirts and denim. Culling from the best of the world, in a sense.
This, and other subtle moves like discreet branding, are going to be part of The Row’s men’s signatures. It’s an interesting move to try and make noise by being quiet, but then again The Row’s customer has never been the kind to jump for kitschy Gucci or mocking Balenciaga.
On Twitter, men’s fashion editor and writer Jacob Gallagher, questioned the brand’s lofty statements.
In essence, saying that The Row isn’t actually bringing much new to the table, barring excellent product. It’s perhaps and probably a matter of odd timing to choose a maximalist and absurdist renaissance to sell plain old quality. But I’ll say this: when Hedi Slimane debuts his collections for Céline, those longing for the days of Phoebe Philo will be scrambling for a dose of irreverence to trends and adherence to purity of vision. It’s a different flavor, but the women’s sizes can only go so high before a man might have to seek from a different rack – his own perhaps, come Fall.