After it was announced back in October, we've been looking forward to the launch of Ayr, the first women's line from the menswear e-commerce startup Bonobos. Now it's here: a full 75-piece collection that's all about easy essentials and great-fitting jeans.
The problem that Ayr is looking to solve is, in design director Jac Cameron's words, that the simplest things are the hardest to find. The collection comprises silk tanks and shirts, button-downs, knits, jeans and denim jackets — a full range of pieces that are meant to fit together without a degree in styling. The lengths of the jackets and shirts are proportioned such that you can throw them on without thinking too hard about it.
A big part of Ayr's proposition is that it's online-only and direct to consumer, meaning it avoids a traditional retail markup on its products. Some of the silk shirts that would otherwise end up retailing at $290 instead cost just over $150.
It's a business model similar to that of Warby Parker, Harry's and Everlane, and like those brands, Ayr breaks with the traditional fashion calendar by creating products that are seasonless. The brand's name stands for "All year round."
"We want to slow down fast fashion and focus on the pieces that really last," Ayr brand director Maggie Winter says.
So how is the collection? It's good, and definitely delivers on its promise that less is more. Cameron and Winter's time spent at Madewell and J.Crew, respectively, certainly shows through. One strappy silk tank with a keyhole back is almost identical to a version I own from Madewell, the one defining feature being that Ayr's has a double lining.
There's no fuss on the jeans — no excessive stitching or branding on the back pockets — and the denim jackets are similarly anonymous. According to Cameron, the super-soft pants are made with technical yarns so that they don't stretch out over a few wears, bouncing back instead. As Winter notes, that also means that they keep your thighs sucked in nicely.
Becoming the go-to for women's wardrobe essentials is a tough nut to crack, with so many options out there already (see: Vince, J.Crew, department stores, etc.). Ayr's pieces aren't so special that they necessitate a buy, but if they deliver on fit and long-term quality as well as they promise, they certainly could develop a loyal fan base.
Ayr is online only for now, although brick-and-mortar plans are on the horizon. Don't expect them to be opening a traditional retail store, though. Bonobos is well known for its Guide Shops, small locations that help men get fitted and then place orders for delivery. Cameron and Winter say that when Ayr does go offline, it will take a similarly non-traditional format.
"We're young enough that we live our lives digitally. The brands we grew up with aren't necessarily growing up with us," Winter says.