Fashion designer Avra Myers creates timeless clothing with a Parisian flairBy Noelle Barbosa | Photography by Jack Foley
Quincy-based clothing designer Avra Myers has been at the fashion forefront for three decades and has long revered French style. Her most recent business venture, A Ruby, launched in 2014, is a contemporary women’s clothing collection influenced partially, she confides, by her love for the book “Parisian Chic” by Inès de la Fressange.
“I have an image of a French woman sitting at a bistro, slicing a pear and just looking so stylish,” says Myers. “She is probably wearing a pair of jeans and a black leather jacket and she looks effortless.”
Originally from Toronto, Canada, Myers cofounded Club Monaco (an international brand now owned by Polo Ralph Lauren) in 1983. During her 23 years with the company, she handled merchandising, buying, sourcing and production. “I traveled with the owner and we developed the line together,” says Myers, whose impressive dossier includes executive roles at The Limited and Quincy-based J.Jill.
In 2008, Myers relocated to Boston to join J.Jill as head of merchandising. For the past five-and-a-half years, the fashion executive has shared a home in Marina Bay with her partner and A Ruby cofounder, Andrew Parrillo, and the couple’s chocolate poodle, Rocky. “I love New England,” says Myers. “I love that I was able to develop a brand from scratch right here in Quincy.”
The morning of our interview, Myers, a petite blonde with almond-shaped eyes and an inviting smile, greeted me at her studio (also in Marina Bay) sporting her signature A Ruby lofty poncho (a blend of Merino and cotton yarn fused in a fisherman’s rib stitch) paired with her classic legging pant and a swanky pair of over-the-knee riding boots. Myers has a je ne sais quoi air about her, along with a relaxed yet classic approach to dressing.
Myers leads me to a showroom where I find a procession of neatly-folded legging pants in navy, olive and white. I spot lush sweaters, cozy ponchos and sleek wrap coats in serene neutrals suspended from a slim clothing rack. A knit infinity scarf in vibrant lapis adds a whimsical pop of color to the collection while trendy tees touting j’adore and c’est la vie reaffirm the modern style that is A Ruby.
“I wanted to make it [A Ruby] easy, comfortable and chic. I wanted to give women an assortment of clothing that was edited,” says Myers. “It’s not about hundreds of styles to sift through and figure out what’s right. Our coat of the season is going to be the right coat for many occasions,” she says, modeling a plush polar fleece wrap coat from her winter collection. “This coat really put us on the map.”
Understanding that many women juggle busy lives and complex schedules, Myers was intent on designing a polished, yet carefree collection that offered sophistication without being complicated. She says her target demographic is primarily women in their 30s and 40s, but she also caters to a slew of baby boomers. The designer, who has two adult children, says she envies today’s female generation because they have more choices and balance (due in large part to advancements in technology) than when she was a working mother with young children.
“You can take your kids to school, grab a coffee, take a business appointment and still go out to dinner with your husband wearing the same thing all day long,” says Myers, referring to her “Quintessentials” – a collection of five must-have pieces for a woman’s wardrobe that includes a pull-on riding pant, the perfect white shirt, a boyfriend jacket, a V-neck tunic sweater and a soft cotton tee. “It’s not just an idea. It works.”
Following a four-year stint at J.Jill, Myers, encouraged designing a line that encompassed French style, since the book “Parisian Chic” had made such an impression on her. She first created a decoupage, assembling bespoke looks that radiated the essence of her vision. Myers found herself clipping images of menswear because in 2013 (when paisley prints were saturating the runways and fashion magazines), minimalist women’s wear was practically nonexistent.
“I began asking women about the items they were missing in their wardrobe and many said they struggled and never had anything to wear,” reveals Myers. “I feel very strongly about making it easier for women to get dressed.”
After having conversations with women from varying socioeconomic backgrounds, Myers knew she would offer both essential and trend pieces that layered easily from season to season. “We offer beautiful neutrals and women can build from that,” says Myers. “That’s how you dress.”
Myers, who does the majority of her brainstorming and designing in her studio, has partnered with designer Robert Page to launch a performance line later this month and beachwear in mid-April. The duo will also introduce the brand’s sought-after polar fleece wrap coat in a luxurious terry fabric that’s ideal for warmer weather.
According to Myers, the name A Ruby is symbolic (the letter A represents her given name and Ruby is her maiden name). Although the brand is an e-commerce venture, Myers doesn’t let that deter her from connecting face-to-face with new and existing clientele at local pop-up shops. “It’s a way to see the customer in my clothing and tweak the line based on her comments,” says Myers, who hosts regular events at Body Benefits Day Spa in Milton and Michelle Willey in Boston’s South End.
Adding to her notion that dressing should be effortless and enjoyable, Myers labels her pieces from sizes one to five (which fit women from sizes zero to 18).
“I love designing clothing that makes it easier for women to get dressed in the morning and also makes women a little happier throughout the day.”
To learn more about A Ruby, CLICK HERE.