Earlier this month, a clip of actor Michael Rapaport on his podcast, “I Am Rapaport” began to make the rounds on High Fashion Twitter. Rapaport’s trash-talking podcast covers everything from sports to popular culture to politics, but it was an unusual place for an actor best-known as self-appointed guardian of New York culture, and the director of a 2011 documentary about A Tribe Called Quest, to wax profane about fashion. And not just any fashion. He was not geeking out about Supreme, Kapital, or any of the other oft-hyped brands beloved by Hollywood fashion fanatics, trendsetting rappers, and basketball’s tunnel fit elite. Instead, the bellicose actor was talking about The Row, the lavishly priced, logo-less brand designed by Ashley and Mary-Kate Olsen. “They got some high end chic shit,” he said, describing it as “classy, low-key” as well as “dope.” He recounted being stopped on the street by someone who asked if his black jacket was from The Row: “It was like some Fight Club shit. I was like, ‘You know?’ He was like, ‘I know.’”
“I fuck with the Olsen twins,” he concluded, “and I fuck with their clothing line The Row—hardbody karate.”
In part, the clip found virality because of the dissonance of Rapaport’s typically profanity-laced style of speaking pointed toward a topic as placid as cashmere coats. But the intensity of Rapaport’s enthusiasm is hardly unusual for the brand’s customers, who treat it almost as a religion. In a phone conversation late last week, Rapaport expanded on his obsession: “Yes. Yes,” he said, ecstatic. “I love it. I love the brand. I love the classic nature of it. I love the fit. I love the materials.” His wife, actor Kebe Dunn, is a devoted shopper, he explained, and he has bought her a number of bags and garments as gifts. “We went into the store and I saw the sweaters and the men’s stuff,” he recalled. He described the retail spaces, which are on the Upper East Side and in Los Angeles, as “dope, and they have dope art.” (At the Upper East Side store, a giant Julian Schnabel decorates the accessories room, for example.) “And I was like, I love it all. I love how it’s made. I love the craftsmanship. It’s like, custom.” He estimates he now has about six pieces—not a closetful, but not inconsiderable for a brand whose coats often sell for three or four thousand dollars.
Adored by womenswear insiders and wealthy art world patrons, The Row’s monastically simple garments run the gamut from Margiela and Armani-inflected tailoring to boucles and knits that recall the discipline of Coco Chanel’s 1930s collections. Its menswear, launched in 2018, is often seen on Jonah Hill, a longtime friend of the Olsens, and Kanye West is reportedly a fan. Over the past two years, the brand’s menswear offerings have shifted from extraordinarily minimalist clothes in almost modish European cuts to something sublimely stranger, with looser silhouettes and an avant-garde sensibility. (In the original podcast clip, Rapaport explained to listeners that the Olsens had made “kazilions” on their Wal-mart line—a fortune which they used to launch their extraordinarily discreet luxury brand in 2007.) Their current season of menswear offerings would look at home alongside a wardrobe of Evan Kinori and Yohji Yamamoto—cerebral, special, and subtly profound.
Rapaport, who is 6’2’’ and admits to having “long arms,” often gets his clothing made. He is a particular fan of their sweaters and jackets, he said, which are perfect for a New York autumn. “I like that the clothes will never go out of style. I like that they’re not trendy. And I like the way [the Olsens] represent the brand, which is understated.”
It may be surprising to hear someone as brash as Rapaport praise something for being understated, but that is in fact the actor’s finely honed fashion philosophy. “The only thing I like logos on are my sneakers, and they’re Jordans. Other than that, I don’t like logos. I like blank,” he says. “I like just the way it fits, the way it feels on you. I don’t want to be a part of a thing. I also think logos for the most part are arrogant, and I don’t like to present myself in that way. Like, Look what I have, look what you don’t have. Or, Oh shit, look at his $1700 sweatshirt. That’s not my thing. When I’m on blast, I like to be in control. I don’t like to try to impress people with clothing, or logos or brands or any of that shit. It’s never been my thing.”
His fashion idol, he added, is Colombo. “You know, Peter Falk. That’d be the only one. And my wife,” he said, who has helped him “dress more my age.” When asked about other brands he likes, he namechecked Lululemon’s men’s workout apparel.
“Another thing I’ve always liked is cashmere,” he said. “Cashmere sweaters, cashmere hoodies, cashmere sweatpants. And again, I know this isn’t something that anybody could afford, but my first cashmere sweater, I got 12 years ago, and it’s still in perfect condition because [of] the amount of money I spent on it. It’s never gotten fucked up. I treat it well. I respect it. And you know, when it’s not cashmere season, I put it away. I call myself, ‘The King of Cashmere.’”
How much money are we talking here for that sweater? “$900,” he said, which works out to about $75 annually for each year since he bought it. “I’m already winning.” Where’d he source this piece? “The brand is called, um, I can’t pronounce it. I gotta spell it out. It’s Italian: M-O-S-C-H-I-N-O.” (It’s pronounced “Moh-skee-noh,” for those wondering at home.)
Rapaport’s fanaticism for The Row dovetails with a bit of stealth luxury news from last weekend: the behind-the-scenes images of Oscar Isaac’s looks for Scenes From a Marriage, designed by costumer Miyako Bellizzi. Those outfits, like the Olsens’s clothes, draw on ’90s designs by Yohji Yamamoto, Rei Kawakubo, and Martin Margiela’s work as the Hermes womenswear designer. Rapaport said he hadn’t seen those images, although agreed there might be something of a new elegance bubbling up celebrity men’s fashion.
“There needs to be,” he said, “because the way people are dressing in all these crazy colorfuls and all that, they’ve got cartoon emblems and all that, they look crazy. When you’re younger, you can wear whatever you want. I’m 51, but, you know, that’s never been my thing. But I think people need to dial it down a little bit. They should.” It was a crisp and definitive end to the conversation—like The Row’s cashmere sweater, you might say. But a few days later, he realized he had still more praise to offer. “I also love The Row playlist,” he texted early Saturday evening, referring to the brand’s monthly playlists on Spotify. “I’m really about this Row life.”