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What the Olsens did for Coffee

The Twin Tycoons Influence on an Industry’s Addiction

It’s unlikely to see photos of Mary-Kate Olsen or Ashley Olsen out and about in New York City. Conducting a recent search on tumblr for the Olsen twins, I discovered the majority of the pictures were above captions like “Mary-Kate on a coffee run in NYC” or “Ashley leaving Starbucks.” It’s rare to see either twin sans-caffeinated drink. The reason? “[going to Starbucks] is the only time I leave my house or get out of my car to go somewhere.” explains Mary-Kate.
I have been obsessed with the Olsens since I first saw them on “Full House” in the first grade. Obviously, I had absolutely no idea that they would become the fashion tycoons that they are today, nor that I would be as enticed with them at seventeen as I was at seven. There was just something about the way they said “You got it, dude!” and “Welcome to Mary-Kate and Ashley’s Party!” that, as a kid, made me want to be just like them. Now I have them to thank for the inordinate amount of faux-fur  coats that I own, and the various arrays of Alexander McQueen scarves I have neatly folded in my closet, but more importantly, I have only them to blame for my addiction to coffee.
At thirteen, I can remember watching Mary-Kate rave on and on about her addiction to coffee on an interview with Conan O’Brien. “I remember, at ten,” she told him, “sneaking my own coffee and pouring a ton of sugar in and going up to the playroom and drinking it.”
She was, of course, quite a bit more deserving of caffeine that I was at ten. At this point in her life, she had already been heading a multi-billion dollar company, DualStar Entertainment Group, for four years, while I, on the other hand, had been doing little other than watching television and going on play-dates. But, no reasoning could convince me; I was willing to do anything within a thirteen-year-old’s comprehension to become more like my idols.
Though Mary-Kate seems to have picked it up rather hastily, coffee is a delicacy one must gradually develop a taste for. It is not an instantaneously lovable beverage, as I soon found out. Trying coffee for the first time was disgusting; I promptly spit it right back into the mug. But there she was, taped to my wall holding a coffee cup, one that she could have probably fit inside of no less, and looking so cool that my thirteen-year-old self could hardly handle it. I was motivated.
As often happens when the Olsens touch anything, fashion follows suit and the coffee cup has become a garden-variety prop in fashion editorials from Vogue to Numero. A coffee cup represents so much more than an energy booster. It is an inexpensive prop utilized to communicate the imaginary lifestyle of the girl being featured in the shoot. Mango’s Fall 2012 lookbook advertising Isabeli Fontna shot by Terry Richardson drinking a petit cappachino at an airport cafe, signifies an international jet setter. Clemence Posey enjoying a leisurely cup of coffee at an outdoor Italian cafe in Foam Magazine  suggests that she lives a leisurely lifestyle, likely as a result of a wealthy family. Karlie Kloss in Free People’s Spring 2012 lookbook, is shown clutching a street vendor cup while hurriedly walking a clan of dogs down the sidewalks of New York, illustrating to the viewers a broke teen trying to afford life in the city.

The Olsen’s influence on coffee sales does not stop there. Fashion’s other favorite twins, Dan and Dean Caten of DSquared2, cited the Olsens as the inspiration behind their memorable Fall 2009 collection. The collection, which described as “Olsen-twins chic,” presented models stomping down the runway in Mary-Kate-and-Ashley-styled layers, colossal sunglasses, and of course, their own oversized Starbucks cups.
Whether it is the Starbucks survival diet (coffee, without the extra calories found in additives actually speeds up the metabolism) or just to stay awake after long hours spent working on their next collection, Mary-Kate and Ashley’s public consumption of copious amounts of coffee has touched numerous components of the fashion industry. A $4.35, coffee gives their fans a fair opportunity to steal their style without having to pay up $1420 for Louis Vuitton Beauty Pumps or $1400 for a Givenchy Nightingale tote. The only side effect is the over-crowding of the Starbucks franchise adjacent to Lincoln Center during Fashion Week. I have survived many a dirty look given over close calls involving the less than forgiving fluid and showgoers most street-style worthy outfits. Though I have fallen prey to the trajectory of the Olsen’s influence, I must try and remain unbiased and recommend this trend with caution. Do you know what Splenda can do to silk?



As a kid, my Mom would allow me to drink coffee. I was obsessed. Then in class I would tell my friends all about my favorite breakfast "drink" they'd listen on in awe. I found it strange that none of them were "allowed" to try this tantalizing concoction. I love your obsessions as they run parallel to mine. I have these Olsen twins to thank for becoming Fashion-crazed, Coffee-addicted, and starting a collection of their musical tapes and mystery movies in the 6th grade! ;)


Laura said...

this made me smile so much, it's so true

Georgia Giraffina said...

So funny and true! I love posing Olsen style with a starbucks even though I think Starbucks is the worst coffee imaginable! My newest accessory is my pink keep cup haha
See you soon,


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Caroline Mason: 21. Native New Yorker (and one time North Carolinian). Assistant to Derek Blasberg. Just a girl who is OCD about all things fashion, drinks way too much coffee, and has an affinity for late night talk shows and travel books. FIT class of 2016. Previously with Karla Otto PR, Lori Goldstein and Lester Garcia.

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