E-commerce women's apparel brand Universal Standard on Monday announced it's expanding sizing to include 00 through 40. The company says that's a first for any brand in the industry, according to a press release emailed to Retail Dive.
The expansion will kick off with a new "Foundation" collection of seven "supremely soft, fit-first layering basics," which will be available between Oct. 13 and Oct. 17 exclusively at a new temporary store in downtown New York City and then online beginning on Oct. 18. Prices range from $35 to $200. The store, which will last through August 2019, is the company's first step into brick-and-mortar.
The campaign spotlighting the new collection features 35 individuals who have been "foundational" to shaping and inspiring Universal Standard, the company said. Co-founders Alex Waldman and Polina Veksler are central to the imagery of the campaign, which also features models La'Shaunae Steward, Jari Jones, Georgia Pratt, Molly Constable, Aweng Chuol, Jess Miller, as well as brand partners and friends Christian Siriano and Julia Kisla.
Within just a few years, Universal Standard has quickly scaled its mission to achieve "fashion freedom" in an industry that for centuries has ignored women who fall outside of arbitrary definitions of beauty. In the U.S., that's actually a majority of women.
"The idea that all women should have access to beautiful things is something I feel very passionate about and if you're not making it for a size 6 then you shouldn't be making it for a size 26," Alexandra Waldman, Universal Standard co-founder and creative director, told a small group of attendees at an event last month about its collaboration with J. Crew.
Working with one of the most iconic American retailers was Universal Standard's way of "waving a flag" to show the industry who they were and how they were trying to disrupt fashion industry norms, Waldman said. Last week, the startup launched a collection with another retail mainstay: Nordstrom. The collection, which features a range of jackets, dresses, sweaters, tops and ponte pants, is helping fuel Universal Standard's growth.
While industry stalwarts have long shunned larger sizes, more major players are realizing the potential to resonate with more customers — not to mention the opportunity to grab a slice of a $21 billion market. That's less than half of the plus-size market potential to reach $46 billion, according to Coresight Research. On its quest to collect hip digitally native brands that resonate with urban millennials, Walmart last week announced it will buy plus-size brand Eloquii for what sources told Recode is a $100 million deal.