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This Year's Mini-moguls

June 17, 2007|Adam Tschorn | Times Staff Writer

CALL them the Olsen clones.

Cole and Dylan Sprouse, the shaggy-haired, 14-year-old twin stars of "The Suite Life of Zack and Cody," are on their way to becoming a mega-brand. And the masterminds? None other than Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen, who parlayed their "Full House" gig into a billion-dollar business that includes books, movies and three clothing lines.

Now the Olsen's company, Dualstar Entertainment Group in Culver City, is partnering with the boys to grow the Sprouse brothers the same way, one foil-print T-shirt at a time.

If you haven't heard of the boys, the 500 tweens who flocked to the Val Surf flagship in Valley Village on a recent Saturday morning could tell you all about them. Some fans came from as far as Carlsbad to get a glimpse of the Disney Channel stars, their new Sprouse Bros. clothing line and their "mentor," Ashley Olsen. The boys, whose TV careers began in infancy when they shared the role of Brett Butler's youngest child in "Grace Under Fire," are primed to jump into mini-moguldom, throwing around phrases like "complete creative control."

Momentarily sequestered from the crowd in Val Surf's back office, the brothers Sprouse picked at their Ben & Jerry's ice cream and explained their level of involvement in the line: about five hours a month reviewing the designs.

"Every design and every piece of clothing, even the texture, is sent to us way ahead of time," Dylan said.

"We share a pretty good idea of what we want," Cole added. "If Dylan and I disagree, we'll discuss it. Nothing we severely disagree on has gotten out there."

Dylan quickly pointed out that "there was this one shirt that was very European and flowery," he said, wrinkling his nose. "There were some major changes early on."

Pieces at launch included a red-and-black-striped zip-front hoodie, suiting-fabric walking shorts with black-and-white print waistband taping, and a T-shirt that depicts a bulldog in a Mexican wrestling mask. "That's Bubba; he's our mascot like Volcom has the Volcom stone," Cole says. "He's on the snaps too."

It's details like that, no doubt, that will appeal to tween boys like Blake Garden. The Valley Village 10-year-old, who claims he's never missed an episode of "The Suite Life," hit Val Surf with his 7-year-old brother, Brett (and, presumably, someone of driving age), to check out the new line.

As he stood next to the Sprouse Bros. rack twisting his way into a skull-emblazoned T-shirt with a blue foil overprint, he explained, as only a 10-year-old can, why he wanted it: "Because they are cool and awesome!"

Next up for the Sprouse sprouts is a book deal with Simon & Schuster, a DVD series and possibly a line of grooming products. "Yes, there have been some grooming items talked about," Cole Sprouse said with a coy grin. "But I guess you'll just have to wait and see."

Shaving cream? Maybe next year.

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