It says a lot about the dire situation currently facing the fashion industry that even a critically lauded, multiple award-winning luxury label finds itself undertaking drastic cost-cutting measures. As per WWD, Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen’s The Row has confirmed it is actively trying to reduce overheads in lieu of the ongoing pandemic.
The initial article that appeared on WWD quoted a source that claimed The Row may have to scale back its operations and even possibly discontinue its menswear line. It states 50 percent of staff have been shed, including womenswear co-design directors James Robinson and Anna Sophia Hövener, as well as founding head menswear designer, Paul Helbers. This led WWD to speculate that its menswear line — which only launched in 2018 — may close altogether, but a statement from the company in the updated piece would refute that. It read:
“Like all retail brands, the company responsibly reduced overhead to address what we all hope will be a temporary disruption of the supply chain due to the global pandemic. The Row is steadfastly committed to and maintains a diverse and inclusive workplace. We are not going to comment on the other inaccurate gossip about our business, other than to say we are excited about The Row’s future, including our men’s wear line, accessories, our e-commerce business and our future profitability.”
Prior to Covid-19, the idea of The Row — whose guffaw-worthy price points are comparable to established houses like Bottega Veneta — selling at discount retailers would have seemed preposterous. The Olsen’s have intentionally tried to cultivate an aura of mystery, whether that’s running its stores (and official Instagram) like art spaces or ensuring only a certain esteemed few are invited to attend its runway shows. Surprisingly, the source states that the company has made the decision to liquidate “a considerable amount” of merchandise to off-price channels in an attempt to drum up cash. Still, we’d wager the chances of a $39,000 alligator hide backpack turning up at your local TJ Maxx remains unlikely.
Elsewhere, the article claims that, aside from financial hardship, The Row has also faced internal difficulties over racial inequality within its corporate headquarters. Here, the source claims it employs no black professionals and “very few” employees of Asian descent, with the latter excluded from promotions and raises even after years of working at the company. The Row declined to comment on this matter, as the statement above confirms.
Named after London’s Savile Row, the Olsen twins launched The Row in 2006. Renowned for its elegant staples and masterful tailoring, it has amassed a legion of hardcore fans among women and men alike, with celebrity admirers as varied as Michelle Obama and Jonah Hill. It has been nominated for 11 CFDA Awards, winning Womenswear Designer of the Year on two occasions.
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