For years there’s been talk about whether the US can produce a luxury conglomerate to rival French powerhouses LVMH and Kering. There are some pretenders but, to generalise, US groups have struggled to compete because they don’t have a long history of craftsmanship à la Louis Vuitton. Luxury shoppers tend to like their purchases with a side order of heritage.
Despite this, two US labels, The Row and Gabriela Hearst, have managed to carve out a lucrative slice of the luxury pie. Both are young relative to their competitors (The Row was founded in 2006; Gabriela Hearst in 2015) yet what they lack in history they make up for in one hugely attractive selling point: quietness. Both create elegant designs from the most sumptuous fabrics and eschew logos. Both avoid pushy marketing; The Row, founded by Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen, is almost anti-publicity. The sisters rarely do interviews and, rather than featuring clothes, their Instagram is mostly a moodboard of architecture and artworks. As a result they’ve cultivated an air of mystique and the allure that comes with it – a rare thing for most brands today.
The two labels have now come to London to conquer the European market. Gabriela Hearst opened a shop in Mayfair last month; yesterday, The Row opened just round the corner, on Carlos Place. This modern US duo are a refreshing tonic against all the social-media noise and shouty streetwear that has come to plague fashion; the Olsens’ success thus far proves that consumers will pay for lovely, low-key clothes. I have a feeling they’ll thrive here.