Plus-sized brand Universal Standard doing brisk business

- A size 6 doesn't have better taste, she just has had better options, says Alexandra Waldman, creative director and co-founder of New York City-based Universal Standard.

Not anymore.

Waldman's plus-sized, direct-to-consumer brand is trying to change that. Waldman, a plus-sized woman herself, says she wanted normal, great clothes to live in: jackets, jeans, and runners. She wanted to be able to go into a bar in SoHo and not look like she was dressed for a baby shower on Long Island. Universal Standard not only serves her aesthetic but the needs of plus-sized women around the world.

Universal Standard co-founder and CEO Polina Veksler says the average woman is a size 14 or above. Veksler says they looked at brands they loved like Theory, Vince, Helmut Lang, and Rag & Bone and saw that aesthetic wasn't available to a majority of women because of their size.

Universal Standard launched in September 2015 with a small 8-piece collection that sold out in just 6 days. Waldman says their size woman tends to actively search for new brands and look for things to buy. The quick sales were the proof in the pudding.

From there, Waldman got to work on 35 new styles, dropping a new piece online every week. Most of their garments are between $30 and $160. Their bestselling Geneva Dress is $120. Waldman says when you put it on it hangs off you and looks modern. You don't think about what you're wearing after you've put it on. You're done.

Universal Standard has designed a button-down shirt that won't pull at the bust, one of the biggest problems the company set out to solve.

The jeans have had a 1,700-person waiting list.

Universal claims its T-shirt is perfection. Waldman calls it the Tee Rex because it's the king of T-shirts made from a very, very soft jersey.

Just this month the brand introduced Universal Fit Liberty, letting women exchange their purchases if their size changes within a year. Waldman says you just send back the clothes that no longer fit, and they'll replace it with the exact same piece, in your new size, for free.

Veksler didn't want women to feel bullied by their size. She wants them to enjoy the shopping experience.

Universal Standard launched without any outside funding and has experienced more than 100 percent growth every quarter. Next month the company is opening a Seattle showroom. This fall it is going on a road trip to bring the clothes across the country.

Universal Standard will also be doing a nationwide model search for the next faces of the brand.

www.universalstandard.net

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