mary kate and ashley olsen style man repeller
I’ve Been Sucked Back Into the Olsen Twin Style Vortex
01.21.19

I’d all but forgotten the Olsen-mania of my teens until a few weeks ago, when my Instagram explore page dangled some bait in the form of @olsenoracle. One of the many fan accounts in existence, it comprises mainly street shots: Mary-Kate and Ashley mid-stride in Manhattan, commanding maximum wind resistance thanks to enormous handbags and even more enormous lattes. Greeted with a feed devoted to these mythical twins, the flames of my fandom were reignited.

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by ALYCE (@olsenoracle) on

@olsenoracle is like a cool glass of Olsen-branded water, the kind I imagine they’d serve from a spotless Riedl glass atop a mid-century coffee table at The Row’s New York HQ. All the Olsen motifs are there — gigantic sunglasses, magnate partners, impeccable outerwear and their much documented penchant for pruning. I dislike the expression “achingly cool,” but for the Olsens, I’ll make an exception. My favorite recent post features the pair crossing the street in unison, Abbey Road style. With trademark nonchalance, Mary-Kate wears all black, The Row’s infamous $39,000 alligator-skin backpack slung low as if it were nothing but a knapsack.

I first encountered Team Olsen in 2004 via their hugely popular tween travelogues, in which the twins took their passports to Paris, New York, Australia and beyond. It was over the course of my teenage years that the pair began morphing into the miniature moguls they later became. Their haircare diminished and their accessories expanded. They routinely arrived at the Met Gala dressed like a couple of glorious grandmas, decked out in clunky jewels, dusty make-up and swathes of vintage finery.

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by ALYCE (@olsenoracle) on

Mary-Kate and Ashley’s transfiguration has surely been one of the most astounding exercises in reverse branding of recent years. Over the course of the 00s, the Olsens became the polar opposite of everything their teenage selves stood for, like cheeriness and approachability. They retreated from the public eye, and then some. They quietly began a new label, The Row, the antidote to their previous MKA mass-market merchandise. After years in the spotlight, their lips truly were sealed.

Yet despite the fact that I’m no longer an avid consumer of celebrity culture, I couldn’t believe how quickly @olsenoracle had me hooked. What the Oracle in her infinite wisdom has shown me is just how deep the current of Olsenmania runs in Millenial memory. In a time where stars are having spats over Twitter, fashion brands are scrambling to stay current, and relevance seems inexplicably tied to a figure’s ability to engage with fans online, the Olsens have managed to cultivate their own highly addictive brand with nothing but detached mystique.

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by ALYCE (@olsenoracle) on


They’ve been in our lives for years, and yet somehow they’re the gift that keeps on giving, outshining their competitors on the grounds of style, longevity and emotional attachment. In an era of overexposure, fast turnover and hype, have the Olsens cracked the code on cultural endurance? Or are they genuinely that fascinating?

Feature photo by Rob Kim/GC Images via Getty Images. 

Get more Pop Culture ?