ANGELES — With the arrival of women’s clothing label
AYR — which opened its doors on Abbot Kinney Boulevard
earlier this month — the Venice thoroughfare may have
established itself as a key retail street for online
brands to baby-step into bricks and mortar.
just the second permanent bricks-and-mortar store for
the brand (the first is in New York City). AYR focuses
on no-nonsense essentials such as denim, T-shirts,
dresses and jackets priced from $55-$645, and has a
celebrity fan base that includes Kendall Jenner, Chrissy
Teigen, Selena Gomez, and Emily Ratajkowski. It joins a
slew of other digitally native brands including Warby
Parker, Buck Mason and Cuyana, all cozied up together on
in 2014 as part of parent company Bonobos, AYR
(pronounced "air") was spun off as a separate
direct-to-consumer company two years later. At the store’s
Aug. 9 grand-opening celebration, The Times caught up
with three of the four founders — Maggie Winter, Jac
Cameron and Max Bonbrest — to talk about the brand and
its journey west. Here are some excerpts from that
You describe AYR as part of the "second wave"
of digital retail. What do you mean by that?
Winter, co-founder and chief executive: There was the
first wave of digital retail — Warby Parker,
Reformation, Bonobos — that was growing along with
Facebook and with the first social media platforms, much
like you had Myspace and then Facebook (and then)
Instagram. You had version one of digital brands then
versions, two and three that are really quick, very
savvy and combine the best of old-school retail with a
totally different way of living.
Why did you choose Abbot Kinney for your new store?
We have been dreaming about having an L.A. store since
the company was founded, and today — tonight that
comes true. So we are based in downtown Manhattan, where
we get a ton of foot traffic and a lot people are
discovering you just walking down the street. There are
not a lot of places in L.A. that are like that. Abbot
Kinney has the diversity, it has the foot traffic, it is
a place where you could meet a hundred people in a day
who come from 80 different places in the world. So for a
young growing brand it is an awesome way to get
exposure, to learn what our customers like and meet tons
of people at once.
Who is your core customer?
(The) average age is 34 — I always describe our
customers as the last generation to learn cursive and
the first generation to learn code. She still loves
great quality and handmade products, all the denim is
made here in L.A. But the way she is living is totally
no-nonsense. It is all about ease and efficiency and
purpose and getting value out of everything she
consumes. It has got to be all on her terms.
Can you describe what AYR means?
AYR stands for All Year Round. We don’t create a lot
of extra stuff, it’s really simple, very purposeful,
just the foundation pieces. It’s for busy women of
purpose who live all over the place.
I’ve read that AYR is a female-founded and
female-owned company. Is that accurate?
Yes — three women and a fourth partner, Zandy Reich,
who’s a guy and it takes a special guy to want to
start a women’s brand with all women. He’s the
special dude who’s been involved. We are independent,
female-founded, female-owned, female-led. (There’s)
lots of estrogen in this company. We understand our
customer very well, we know what she wants because we
live with her every day.
Do you have any favorite pieces?
Cameron, co-founder and creative director: There’s a
couple. Two of our absolute bestsellers are the Camel
Robe and the Jac Skinny Jeans; we’ve had both of these
items since the inception of the company. The Camel Robe
is made of this phenomenal Italian camel hair, made in
Portugal, really handcrafted and beautiful. There’s no
closure to it, you can wear it with everything, it’s
super versatile. It’s an amazing piece and has gotten
a lot of press and it’s kind of like a pillar of the
We died a few months after we launched (when we saw) a
picture of Chrissy Teigen wearing (the Camel Robe) over
a mini dress looking fabulous and Kendall Jenner wore it
to each fashion week and we were beside ourselves.
Outside of the robe, denim is our number one. The Skinny
in Jac’s Jean was one of the first things we launched
and based on a pair of jeans I broke in for seven years
and I used that as the standard. Our denim is super
premium and comfortable.