On a warm, early summer day, three best friends, all smiles and laughs, followed one denim-clad woman behind the other into a bright and airy Soho boutique. Though the bright-eyed women looked like they’re on a shopping trip you’d like to join, they were actually just starting a new day of work at AYR.
“There is no better feeling than seeing people you love succeed and we see that constantly 24 hours a day, seven days a week, all year around. We’ve been seeing it for years,” says Maggie Winter, CEO of AYR (All Year Round) Jeans. Four years ago, Maggie launched AYR along with her two besties, Jac Cameron and Max Bonbrest. And in the years since, the trio has approached their brand, and their consumer, the same way they approach their friendship.
And if you think that there’s no way a friendship can stand after being put through the tries of business, you clearly haven’t met Maggie, Max, and Jac.
“We see each other struggle and fail,” Jac, Creative Director, says.
“And all the stuff in between,” Max, VP of PR and Brand Marketing, finishes her friend’s sentence.
“But that’s not as fun,” Maggie adds. “Seeing the successes is fun. That’s what we get to see.”
“And the great thing about it is, that we’re a support for each other, we’re a really strong support for each other,” Jac says. “I know if I have a problem or if I’m worried about something or I don’t know how to proceed with something, these guys are my first call.”
The trio realized five years ago that they wanted to build a brand that tells a different kind of story, one about women like themselves—strong, independent, and modern. “That’s who makes the brand and that’s who the brand is made for. It just felt like there was this amazing moment where all these opportunities coalesce,” Maggie explains. “We also were approaching an age where we are starting to think about making longer term investments in things we choose.”
Maggie shares that the brand raised their series A during a year that only 13 percent of venture capital was going to companies with at least one female founder “And here we were with three female founders and we were really proud to be a part of that 13 percent,” she says. “And we’re really excited to belong to a new wave of brands that are being run by smart people, regardless of what their background is. What we want is the chance to do the job, and that’s what we want to provide our customers and our audience with that encouragement, empowerment, and confidence to get out there and do it. Because the only way to change those statistics is to show up, and we’re showing up and we want to encourage other women to do the same.”
The women of AYR cater to women who are a lot like themselves, making for an easier dialogue with their customer.
“We are our customer,” Max says. “And it’s certainly easy to talk to yourself.” Though their consumers vary in age, personality, and preference, the AYR woman is the type of person who calls the shots in her life. She won’t be told what to do, or what to choose. Maggie explains, “She has all the choice in the world and she’s a really strong, confident, independent woman.”
The modern woman their brand targets spends her money like she spends her time: thoughtfully, and in the way that will return the best for her. The AYR founders contemplate the daily decisions of their shopper and aim to make her dressing choices easier. “When you open your closet in the morning, it shouldn’t be a scientific math problem to get dressed. It should be easy to piece together,” Max says. Their motive is to simplify choices for their shopper—the intentionally understated, seasonless collection blends seamlessly into her wardrobe and her lifestyle.
“When you see the the Bomb Pop sell out in two weeks then you know you have a winner style and across the board you want to work on that and want to start tearing apart what makes that jean so great how does that complement the rest of the collection,” Jac says.
A fan favorite, AYR’s Bomb Pop jean sold out quickly. Jac took careful consideration crafting the Bomb Pop, working closely with the factory to tweak the fit to find the perfect high rise, straight leg, and slight crop with a release hem. “When you fit a jean it really comes down to the difference of an eighth of an inch being the perfect fit or slightly off to make it,” she explains. “I do a lot of things in fit to make the silhouette very flattering. I bring the side seams forward and truly every detail is very considered. I draw every single back pocket and all of our back pockets is cut to the size, which is a something we do slightly differently than maybe other premium denim brands. So it looks perfect absolutely perfect, especially in the backseat profile.”
Maggie shares that in the brand’s “totally unscientific research,” women come out of the dressing room feeling 15 percent better when they’ve tested out the Bomb Pop, which Max explains is their intention for the wider collection. The AYR aim is to have every woman walk out of the dressing room feeling good about herself and what she’s wearing, no matter what she puts on in the shop.
“As Jac is designing, she’s obsessively considering this women in every way her lifestyle, her attitude, and her values,” Maggie shares. Jac’s main point of focus when she designs is to think from a place of what makes the consumer feel confident. And the results (the Bomb Pop) clearly speak for themselves.
The passion the women of AYR have for their products is on a personal level, much deeper than most creator/product relationships. They speak about their clothing the same way they speak about their friends—with pride and excitement.
“The thing that I love the most [about denim] is that you’re truly starting is a complete blank canvas,” Jac says. “It’s one of those pieces that really speaks to how people dress, it’s the foundation of anybody’s wardrobe and I love that, too. Nothing makes me happier than when someone comes out of the dressing room they’re like, ‘Oh God, yeah this feels great!’ And when there are people who are like, ‘there’s definitely no way I’m trying on jeans today,’ and they come out with that positivity around how they feel, it makes [denim] something that I love all the way through from creating it to it being on our customer’s body.
Even Max hadn’t been a denim enthusiast before the influence of the AYR mission. “I found jeans terribly uncomfortable and constricting and it wasn’t until Jac introduced stretch into my life that I was able to wear jeans,” she says.
The affection Maggie, Jac, and Max feel about their brand is really a passion in their consumer and their product. They’ve treated AYR with the same care and consideration you’d give to a friend, and in turn built a brand that empowers and fulfills the modern female consumer.
“It’s fun, it’s funny, its surprising, it’s an adventure, you never know what’s coming next,” she continues. “You have your buddy next to you that you can roll your eyes or laugh at and it all becomes this great joke. We always talk about this being a road trip. We’ve been on this road trip for five years now, and if all works out well we’re not getting out the car any time soon.”