Bonobos-owned women’s brand Ayr will become a stand-alone company early next year.
Ayr, an acrnoym for All Year Round, was founded in late 2013 as a denim brand and saw an official multicategory women’s wear launch at ayr.com in February of 2014. To date, the almost two-year-old company has been wholly owned and operated by Bonobos Inc., which has raised more than $127 million in funding since 2007.
“It’s a mark of success that we can do this,” Andy Dunn, founder and chief executive officer of Bonobos, told WWD. “The more we looked at it, [we realized] they were two different customers. If we want to unlock both of them with a lot of focus it makes sense for them to be stand-alone brands.”
Dunn said that Bonobos will remain a shareholder in the newly formed Ayr brand. Maggie Winter, formerly brand director of Ayr, will now serve as founding chief executive officer of the company.
The brand is on track to double net sales this year to $2 million, somewhat below Dunn’s initial expectations, but still what Winter described as “healthy business for a two-year-old brand.”
Additionally, Nordstrom, which launched Ayr in four of its stores in March, will expand the range to eight doors during the first half. The brand’s first wholesale partnership with Shopbop kicked off in September 2014, followed by a Nordstrom.com launch early this year. A showroom concept that mirrors Bonobos’ Guideshop model bowed at the companies’ shared headquarters last year.
Denim retails for $165 to $225, merino wool and cashmere sweaters from $175 to $420 and outerwear includes blazers, jackets and wool coats that can climb up to about $500 range. Ayr’s “The Robe,” a $485 indoor/outdoor hybrid wool coat, has been seen on Chrissy Teigen and Karlie Kloss. Gwyneth Paltrow was such a fan of the Tokyo sweater that it’s now being sold at the Goop holiday pop-up shop at the Time Warner Center.
Winter called it a “perfect time” for Ayr to go out on its own. “We have proof of concept, demand and distribution, and great product. We want to bring this brand together with its own four walls, literally and figuratively.”
She said the team is currently scouting locations in downtown Manhattan right now, ideally a space that can double as a brand headquarters and store. The founding executives and dedicated team of seven will lead Ayr into its next chapter. Winter acknowledged that the team will need to grow in order to become financially and operationally independent from Bonobos.
“The idea is that we want Ayr to have stand-alone resources so we can best focus on our customer. One of things we learned from Bonobos is that they deliver laser-focused customer service. We have a different customer and she deserves just as much attention and devotion,” Winter said, adding that much attention will be paid to customer acquisition and building out Ayr’s audience. There will also be an expansion of categories beyond its core denim, tops and outerwear.
In order to do all this, Ayr will need additional funding to grow, but Winter declined to comment on whether or not the company would be raising money next year as an independent company.