ayda field willians

Ayda Field Williams: Colourful, fun and ‘F**cking Fantastic’

23 Apr 2024 | |By Annabel Harrison

Ayda Field Williams on her latest activewear collection, the joy of colour, getting older, the work-life-kids-pets juggle and why she loves the London food scene

I find out just before our call that my interviewee is incredibly jet-lagged. I prepare myself for lower energy (her) and a bit more effort (me). I needn’t have bothered. Ayda Field Williams is on form, on brand and on a roll the moment she Zooms in, introducing Priscilla (the fluffball walking in and out of shot – “You’re interviewing me through her actual tail and bottom!”) and explaining they had to bring all the animals back from LA, “So it’s like Noah’s Ark here. We have eight dogs and two cats in the house. And four children, five including [husband] Rob who’s asleep up there.”

She powers on, with more energy than I’d have thought possible after a night of no sleep, telling me how her huge dog Max nearly took her out on the school run and chirping cheerfully, “I’m chugging cold coffee. We’re good to go!”

The founder of Ayda Activewear is, of course, clad head-to-toe in her own brand: cherry cap, Veronica windbreaker and long legs in black Gwen leggings. There aren’t many brands I can think of where the founder looks better than the models in her clothes. “My penchant for caps is really just to hide bad hair,” declares Field Williams with upbeat candour. “I have such admiration for the parents who are completely turned out on the school run. I roll out of bed – usually I haven’t even brushed my hair – and the cap goes on, the hoodie, the sweatshirt, the leggings, the socks. If I’m still wearing my pyjamas I just put a huge coat on. I don’t care. That’s how we roll.” She sometimes sleeps in her leggings, “knowing I have no time in the morning – it’s just time efficient.”

She’s a joy to talk to; infectiously high energy and the walking, talking embodiment of her brand: the busy working ‘mom’ juggling the aforementioned kids, aged between four and 11, a menagerie of pets and running her own business. Ayda Activewear has just released the last drop of the spring collection, Live The F*cking Dream, and its socks, windbreakers and the like are sported on social media not just by its founder but also husband Robbie Williams, who – hilariously – models item after item, of what is definitely a womenswear collection, with committed panache.

It’s fun: new performance sets are said to be ideal “for long walks down the beach straight toward the bar”, and there are Day-Jamas, Mr Showbiz leggings, a Loud Luxury tee and socks emblazoned with ‘NEPO BABY’. Field Williams wants her customers to stop dreaming small. “Dreams should be ginormous, sparkly and tailor-made.” 

ayda field williams

“I decided to launch Ayda Activewear,” she explains, “because this is the chaos of my life. I created a line to suit my own lifestyle. It really hit me during the pandemic that I had this gorgeous portion of my closet that is so curated and beautiful and aspirational but I didn’t interact with that girl at all; I was living in my leggings, my T-shirt, my bra. We all hit a low standard in terms of how we presented ourselves. I was in unfun clothing that made me feel unfun. I decided to flip the switch and thought: let me make better versions of the stuff I actually wear.”

The clothing stands out from the more serious, often monochrome luxe-athleisure lines thanks to its loud (and proud) colours. It also prompted me to forego a neutral knit in favour of green, which did brighten my morning, I tell Field Williams. “There’s just something colour does that black can’t do. Black is the absence of colour. And white is all colour which is why I think white sometimes gives you more energy than black. My closet in LA was all pink, and it made me happy. Colour is an expression of joy.”

ayda activewear

Us Brits have responded well to the brand’s irreverent slogans. “I did wonder if the Americans would be aghast so I was pleasantly surprised that they have also embraced the ‘f*cking fantastic’. My sense of humour resonates more with the British and with women in general, those dynamic, smart, women who are living their life with all sorts of plates spinning. It was really nice to realise that there’s a whole culture of women who want to have fun, laugh, have real conversations with each other; they aren’t so precious that they can’t talk about certain things with curse words, and the same kind of candour that a man can. Of course, there’ll be people who are offended, ‘Oh, it’s just f*cking this and f*cking that’.” Field Williams’ clothing is clearly not for those women, and I don’t think she minds one bit.

Ayda’s own workouts of choice – walking, yoga, Pilates, weights and resistance training – are far from the intensity of her high-school-athlete and 20-something self, when she championed high-octane, Barry’s Bootcamp-style fitness. “I hit it so hard in my twenties that now my body’s like, guess what? It’s time for you to cash that check. I was saying yesterday, I can’t remember the last time my body didn’t hurt. I wonder what that day was: the last day I was ever gonna feel good. Was it 36? Was it 35?!” She’s on a roll, gesticulating energetically as she imagines this. “If I’d known, I would have jumped off things, I would have done a parkour course. I would have started skateboarding!”

ayda activewear

A frozen shoulder has halted a lot of her exercise in its tracks but, with typical optimism, “I keep telling myself, if I can get one per cent more mobility a day then in 100 days, I’m there. My body has taught me some lessons. ‘We need to be one. We are the same person’.” Much of what Field Williams says about her body getting older and adapting to its changing needs resonates with me and will, too, with her audience. “I think it’s about navigating your own evolution and listening to yourself – in my twenties I didn’t even hear the voice – and that’s the joy of getting older. There have to be some pluses, right? It’s certainly not the joint pain or the wrinkles!”

Walking is something Field Williams loves and living right next to Holland Park means she and her family spend a lot of time there. She’s so sincere and enthusiastic that the cynical Brit in me is fully taken in by the LA-ism: “I’m very blessed”. She namechecks Belvedere restaurant as a hidden gem. “They’ve done such a beautiful job remodelling and the interiors are beautiful. Amazing hand-cut chips and a great go-to, especially in the summertime.” She’s a member of Mayfair’s Maison Estelle (“I geek out over the interiors. It’s just so beautiful”) and has recently discovered the incredible sushi at The Araki. “I took Rob and it blew my mind. I’ve not been to Japan and it’s the closest I imagine you can get to being in a sushi restaurant in Japan. Totally intimate, and the art of it was unbelievable.”

Self-confessed foodie, Field Williams has spent a great deal of time in both LA and London, so she is certainly qualified to state the following with confidence: “Ten to 15 years ago, I would have said the food in LA is way better than London. Now I think the food is better in London than it is in LA. What I love is the discovery; there are always new restaurants opening up in London and foods I haven’t ever tried before. There’s more innovation; here I’m having more ‘oohs’ and ‘ahhs’ when I’m eating.” Praise indeed.

As we wrap up, I find out Field Williams will appear on British daytime TV in the coming days. Will she be wearing her activewear? “I should! I’d love to wear my après-ski sweater. The only problem is that it does say ‘F*cking Fantastic’.” She takes the briefest pause to consider if she’d get away with it, launching straight into: “I’m married to a northerner and he says words that I think are PC. I remember twice getting in trouble for saying ‘it’s p*ssing down’ about the weather and they were like [gasp] and I had to apologise. I don’t think ‘F*cking Fantastic’ will make the edit…”

For now? “I haven’t decided if I want to go pass out [asleep] or go outside to catch this blue sky because it might not be here in 20 minutes.” And that’s how she rolls. I’d bet on the latter.

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