In most shops, often department stores, the plus size section might be up a few floors, somewhere tucked far and away in a corner perhaps next to pots, pans, or a wall of drab curtain swatches. And whatever clothing was offered within that small selection is frequently lacking—fewer recognizable brands, fewer options. Alexandra Waldman is all too familiar with such a scenario. So, as badass ladies do, she decided to do something about it.
Waldman and friend Polina Veksler hatched a plan inside a NYC apartment: Make a fashion line for a variety of bodies and, thus, in 2015 Universal Standard was born.
The inclusive brand makes fashion-forward apparel in sizes six through 32, with a goal to cover sizes zero to 40. But, says cofounder Polina Veksler, "We didn't want to build another plus size brand with 'plus size fashion'—just fashion." Full stop. Quality, long-lasting fabric and engineered fit, says Veksler, is a couple of Universal Standard's style pillars; things that anyone, despite size or shape, can get behind.
And now you can get behind—and certainly in—Universal Standard clothing at its new showroom in Belltown that opened earlier this month at 2228 First Avenue. Up a short wood staircase awaits the open showroom, racks on racks on racks line the walls, accessories, bags, and jewelry are displayed atop a central table. But do note: This place is by appointment only. You can schedule one-hour appointments with just you and a stylist will help you as much (or as little) as you want. You can even book a small group gathering in which you and a few friends try on everything in the shop. And there's quite a bit to try on. Universal Standard's got your professional attire that can go from day to night, more casual, everyday essentials, athletic wear, and everything in between.
Extended sizing's come a long way, even in just a few years. Last August, New York Magazine ran a feature on the movement towards more inclusive clothing; the piece, "Fashion for the 67 Percent," rightly noted that 67 percent of women in the U.S. wear a size 14 or above. And yet availability remained dismal. Universal Standard's obviously helping with that problem as more brands catch up. This spring Nordstrom expanded its relatively new extended sizing initiative. The local retailer asked its brands to "fill in the gaps in sizing and expand their size ranges." Now 100 brands in 30 Nordstrom stores carry more sizes from extra extra small to size 18.
Hey, it's a start.