Any shopper can attest to just how hard it is to find a pair of well-made, perfectly fitting jeans. And to state the obvious, when you get into plus sizes, the hunt for stellar denim gets even tougher. For us, the first challenge is tracking down a store that carries your size; then the frustration moves to finding the style you want, since trends make their way to the plus-size department at a slower rate; last, throw in the fact that most denim in larger sizes is made of the thin, inexpensive, superstretchy skinny fabric that bags out and—worse—wears through in the inner thighs. At least, that’s what my research told me (and what I’ve experienced personally!) when I set out to make a limited run of high-end plus-size jeans with 3×1 this summer. And it’s what Maggie Winter and Jac Cameron, cofounders of AYR, found when they decided to launch their first plus-size jeans—which go on sale today.
The New York brand—best known for chic essentials like denim, camis, and duster coats—has created what it says is the first premium plus-size jeans. Period. “We wanted to explore an audience that’s been totally underserved in the premium market—because that’s bullshit,” says Winter, who also serves as AYR’s CEO. Cameron, the creative director, adds, “There really wasn’t anything with our aesthetic of classic elevation and luxury textiles. The brands that do carry denim in these categories…you wouldn’t look to them for inspiration.”
The One Love jeans, as they’re called, are modeled off AYR’s best-selling skinny jeans, with its slim cut and dark wash. They’ll be labeled in dress sizes (14, 16, and so on) in lieu of denim sizing (32, 34, et cetera) and will run from size 14 through 22. It’s not an “all-size” pair (i.e., the same style made in size 0 through 22) because AYR “didn’t just start with size 6 or 8 jeans and scale up—we engineered a totally new fit.” They’ll retail for $195.
If you’re an AYR fan, you’ll find that a few key features from the main line made it into the One Love. “Little tricks of the trade that I’ve built up over the course of time [as the head of denim at Calvin Klein and now the creative director of AYR] to make sure that we elongated the leg and made a really flattering waistband,” says Cameron. The style has a 28-inch inseam because that’s the brand’s top-selling measurement. “Fashion is traditionally fit on a 5’9″ fit model, but the average woman is 5’4″,” says Winter. “Most of our business is done in a 28-inch inseam.”
The special focuses on this plus-size expansion? Excellent fit, a true mid rise, and fabric that holds its shape: “We asked our fit models to bring in their favorite jeans, and what started as a show-and-tell quickly became a feedback session of grievances,” says Winter. “The wishes were jeans that don’t have an itty-bitty rise that they had to yank the waist up on, jeans that wouldn’t get baggy in the knees throughout the day, and jeans that would last the test of time. One fit model said she was buying three or four pairs of one style of jeans because she knew that she could probably get only three months of wear, maybe even less.” Wishes granted!