The fashion designers explain the logic behind how they select vintage pieces to accompany the designs at their Los Angeles flagship store

By Emily Kirkpatrick
June 09, 2017 02:00 PM
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mary kate and ashley olsen elizabeth and james
Credit: Courtesy Elizabeth and James

While Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen may now live their high-profile lives very quietly and under the radar, nevertheless it’s undeniable that these two fashion designers are full-fledged fashion icons. Even long before they had launched their two hugely successful, understatedly luxurious labels Elizabeth and James and The Row, they were tween style idols thanks to their pitch perfect trendy ensembles, regularly worn in coordinating colors and prints, who later developed a serious penchant for vintage which they can often be seen wearing on the Met Gala red carpet. So of course they had to bring their exacting taste for flea market thrifting to their stores, adding a personally curated selection of vintage clothing and antique goods to their flagship Elizabeth and James store in Los Angeles.

In their interview with Coveteur, Ashley explains, “Mary-Kate and I approached the Elizabeth and James store from a lifestyle perspective,” looking to move beyond just clothing design to curate an entire experience for their customers. She continues, “[When choosing objects for the store] we started with an L.A. mentality and looked for pieces that complement the Elizabeth and James collection.”

elizabeth and james store olsens
Credit: Courtesy Coveteur/Tristan Kallas

The store is replete with antiques from wall-to-wall, including everything from the prints to the chairs, or as Mary-Kate says,“Everything from local pottery, found objects at flea markets. Essentially, items Ashley and I live with.” The designer continues, “Our favorite pieces are constantly evolving, but because we have a deep love of vintage clothing, the tees and kimonos were especially fun.” And if one of those signature flowy kimonos has always been on your aspirational Olsen bucket list, Mary-Kate let us all in on her vintage shopping secrets, saying, “[The best places to shop for vintage robes are] vintage shops, dealers and flea markets across New York, Los Angeles and Paris.”

Mary-Kate also offered up some styling advice, saying of an old Hillary Clinton book they discovered and paired alongside a pastel blue “Dreamer” slogan tee, “We found the book online along with the vintage pins. We gravitate towards anything with positive messages that support women and female empowerment. I like the idea of mixing pins on a vintage jean jacket or canvas tote.”

elizabeth and james store olsens
Credit: Courtesy Coveteur/Tristan Kallas

And if you’ve ever wondered where Ashley gets her enviable collection of denim, she explains, “My favorite jeans are [a] pair of vintage Levi’s and my old Elizabeth and James zip-front jeans in black. We re-did them in the last Fall collection.” And what would a Los Angeles store be without the requisite display of pricey crystals, which although you may consider her to be the consummate New Yorker, Ashley confesses, “Yes, [I collect crystals].”

In an equally so L.A. confession, Ashley says that the zines, tinctures and teas that they feature in the store are all from Homestead Apothecary in Oakland, adding, “We love that they are from California and everything in their shop pays homage to the plants and supporting local herbalists, farmers and artists. I drink the Brain Booster tea. The handcrafted tinctures are made in small batches using local plants. We think they resonate with our L.A. customer.” And Mary-Kate adds, “[We burn sage at our homes] all of the time, and in our offices and stores, as well,” as an explanation for the bundles of that herb you can also find for purchase.

elizabeth and james store olsens
Credit: Courtesy Coveteur/Tristan Kallas

So whether you’re looking to swaddle yourself in a 60-year-old kimono, smudge your house with locally sourced sage, or just channel your inner Olsen, Mary-Kate and Ashley’s stores have got you covered.

What do you think of the designers tips for vintage shopping and styling? Sound off below!