But the 30-year-old twins live very different lives nowadays — building a career for themselves as fashion moguls where their time is mostly spent behind-the-scenes.
They launched their high-end couture fashion label, The Row, in 2006 — beginning with a 7-piece collection that included the “perfect T-shirt,” a cashmere wool dress and their favorite cotton sateen leggings. By 2015, Women’s Wear Daily reported the $50 million brand was available through 164 points of distribution across 37 countries — including their first standalone store in Los Angeles.
In 2016, The Row — named after London tailoring mecca Savile Row — opened its second flagship store in New York City. The Olsen sisters first moved there in 2005, when they were students at New York University. They operate the company and its nearly 60 employees from their West Village studio, where they also sit on the seven-person design team.
Their work with The Row earned them the Council of Fashion Designers of America’s coveted designer of the year title in both 2012 and 2015.
While The Row’s minimalistic style and expensive fabrics have been accepted by the chicest of fashionistas, the Olsens also created a more contemporary line called Elizabeth & James. Named to reflect their identities as both masculine and feminine — and inspired by some of their personal wardrobe favorites — attention to detail and vintage inspiration are seen in the brand’s trendy threads.
Like The Row, the sisters help design the ready-to-wear collection — available worldwide and in their flagship Los Angles store — themselves.
It’s that closeness that allows them to have joint and total control over their brands. “It’s important to control the image of your brand, something we have known since we were very young,” Mary-Kate told InStyle in 2016. “It’s a lot more work but we’re up for it.”
“We are so fortunate to have each other,” she added. “We hired every person on our team. We have full control, and we’re lucky to be under one roof. That you cannot take for granted.”
Living in the Big Apple, as opposed to L.A., makes it easier for the stars to avoid the snaps of the paparazzi, too.
Also helpful: neither sister is on social media — not Twitter, not Snapchat, not Facebook, and aside from a rare selfie during a takeover, not Instagram. “Because we don’t dive into that whole world [of social media] and we don’t have Facebook, we’ve never been connected to our fans in that way,” Ashley told Net-A-Porter’s The Edit on Wednesday. “We’ve stayed quite sheltered in that sense.”
Mary-Kate also leads a quiet personal life with husband Olivier Sarkozy. The couple married in November 2015 in a small ceremony at a private New York residence. The 47-year-old French banker, who has two children from a previous marriage, began dating Mary-Kate in May 2012, popping the question in early 2014.
She spends her free time focused on her family and riding horses — including competing in the annual Hampton Classic Horse Show in Bridgehampton, New York. “I have a husband, two step-kids and a life,” Mary-Kate told The Edit. “I have to go home and cook dinner. I ride horses on the weekends. You find the thing that helps you relax and if you don’t have it, you have to look for it. Or you get burned out and then you’re not productive.”
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Ashley, meanwhile, has kept her romantic life quiet. She was previously linked to director Bennett Miller, 49, and renowned artist George Condo, 59. She’s currently dating 58-year-old financier Richard Sachs, whom she first stepped out with last October.
“Their mother would tell me that they sometimes cried on Saturday or Sunday mornings because she would say, ‘No, it’s not a Full House day,’ ” executive producer Bob Boyett, who cast the twins as Michelle, told PEOPLE last year. “So I do think they loved doing it. But when you think about it, they didn’t have a choice early on. What one does as a kid might change.”
“They loved what they were doing as kids, they loved the show. But I don’t think in their life they wanted to be actresses,” he added. “They wanted to be just what they are.”