“Choose well. Buy less.” ~ Vivienne Westwood
Just a few words of impact by one of fashion’s greats, yet so true in today’s span of retail. The appeal of shopping sprees have died, along with the mantra of more-is-more in terms of our closets. Consumers are now laser focused on high-quality, investment pieces versus the thrill and trends of fast fashion.
Universal Standard, a size-inclusive brand for women sizes 10 – 28, is now setting the standard for the plus-size industry and taking it to the highest power — whether the world is ready for it or not.
“I want to break the industry that currently exists,” said Universal Standard Co-Founder Alexandra Waldman. “It needs to be completely broken in order to be rebuilt properly with the kind of respect [it deserves], in terms of garments, quality, fit, size, and visual voice.”
Rather daunting that “the plus-size convo” is still the topic of many — despite current studies proving that the average size of today’s American woman lies between a size 14 and 16. And yet, exclusivity within fashion still exists. The founders of Universal Standard are far from shy in expressing disdain to fashion’s selectiveness, yet they push for an all-inclusive culture one garment at a time.
“Everything is changing and the idea of what is beautiful is changing — it’s becoming much more interesting, and much more inclusive, and much more diverse, and it’s just becoming a much bigger conversation, and that’s what we want to reflect,” Waldman emphasized.
That reflection, lies first within the clothing itself. Crafted from the finest of materials, Universal Standard looks to the best in Peruvian cotton, sourcing, and other materials to embody an unforgettable experience for the customer.
This very identifiable customer is one who deserves the personalized attention, as for years she felt “un-welcomed” in traditional department stores — often forced to shop online, as the virtual fitting room or her own living room was more warm and inviting than the anxiety of shopping publicly.
An unexaggerated scenario, it was this plus-size consumer who rushed to the Universal Standard website, selling out inventory for the budding brand just six days following a viral write-up via Refinery 29 two years ago — and the rest has been history.
The new mecca for plus-size shopping had arrived, with style selections bucking the norm and re-defining what truly flatters a woman’s body.
So wave bye-bye to muumuus, baggy pants, waistless dresses and peplum tops, as Universal Standard establishes the new norm. “The standard” is laced with leather skirts, luxury tees, zip pullovers, leather tops, figure-flattering dresses, and much more.
“I wanted a t-shirt without a kitten on it…or some bejeweled flower, or fringe,” Waldman admitted. “I just wanted a grown-up t-shirt, and it says something that I had to start my own brand to get what I wanted.
Everything is made to last. Everything is colorfast…made from the best Peruvian cotton with built-in stretch so it comes back to the shape that it’s supposed to have, even after a lot of use. Everything has hidden stretch.”
You sit the way you want to sit. You move the way you want to move. Your clothes move with you.
Conceptualizing the modern day voices for the industry is only the beginning for Universal Standard. From quality to innovation to fit, influential moves are being made to revolutionize what today’s woman wants in terms of fashion and style.
THE UNIVERSAL STANDARD X DANIELLE BROOKS TRIA COLLECTION
And who but none other than actress Danielle Brooks to get in on the fun with the release of the Universal Standard x Danielle Brooks Tria Collection? The Orange Is The New Black actress has been a top pick for designer plus-size collabs, but this is the first time that Brooks has had a personal hand in designing the collection.
The Tria features three pieces styled and designed by influencers such as Brooks, based on the question, “What have you always wanted to have in your closet, and never been able to find because of your size?”
And thus — the newest US x DB Tria collection features a playful multi-functional off-the-shoulder sweater dress, a dramatic sharply-tailored sweeping shirt dress, and the 2017 wardrobe fave, the classic overalls. Shop and swoon via the Tria collection here — we already have.
PREDICTING THE FUTURE OF PLUS-SIZE FASHION
Sold out collections, killer e-commerce, the US x DB collection — what lies in the future for not just Universal Standard but the plus-size industry overall?
First, teaching women to love themselves exactly as they are and not at the size she wishes to be in the future.
“Women [are] not seeing the woman in the mirror. They’re looking at themselves and saying I became a vegan yesterday or started yoga three weeks ago,” dished Waldman. “[They think] — my body…is not my best me. My best me is somewhere in the future.
It’s really heartbreaking because they are deferring the pleasure of a great outfit, a wonderful fit, or feeling good about themselves to some other better self that may or may not come into being. This is like a bully beating you up in your head.”
Thus Universal Fit Liberty was born –an innovative program to combat women’s fluctuating weight battles and to release the anxiety associated with clothing. Women who purchase from the brand’s core collection can exchange their items for free within a year of purchase if they gain or lose weight and are no longer able to fit the clothing.
Furthermore, the clothes that come back are laundered and donated to charities that help women get back on their feet such as: First Steps and Dress for Success. Systematically, the clothing stays out of landfills and fosters an eco-system for good.
As for the future of plus-size fashion overall, the founders of Universal Standard have a no-nonsense approach to the subject, and one that’s sure to raise eyebrows but foster progression.
If we’re still talking about plus-size clothing in the future, then we have all failed. It just has to be clothing. It just has to be fashion. It’s not plus-sized anything.
“It’s not us and them,” Waldman further emphasized. “It’s just going and buying your size off of the rack, and a much more inclusive concept of apparel. That’s the only thing that can happen and the writing is on the wall.”
Photos Used Courtesy of: Universal Standard