Universal Standard is coming to Austin. The online clothing line for women sizes 10 to 28 will be hosting a pop-up shop in Austin Wednesday and Thursday as part of a 12-city tour. There you can try and feel Universal Standard’s different looks as well as some looks that are not available online yet.
You also can be photographed for the brand’s model search. The brand is looking for a “new understanding of beauty,” says co-founder Alexandra Waldman.
What makes this clothing line different? Waldman explains that it’s not just the sizing, it’s the way it creates the sizing. Often brands just add inches all around to a standard size to get larger sizes. That leaves the sleeves looking too big or the length too long.
“It’s a mindless process,” Waldman says. “You lose a lot of the design elements as you get to bigger sizes. By the time you get to 24, that dress is midcalf when at size 14 it was at the knee. It loses its identity.”
Instead, Universal Standard goes for sizing that is more realistic. That doesn’t mean that it will fit everyone, though.
“There’s a huge amount of body variation once you get passed a certain size,” Waldman says. “Between a size 16 and and a size 26, there’s so much possible variation in the body type. We knew we could not be all things for all people.”
Universal Standard, she says, “picked a track” and expects to fit about 67 percent of all women at that size. It also created its own fabric that is specifically made for bigger sizes.
The brand also launched its Universal Fit Liberty program in April. Items that are part of that program can be exchanged for a different size within a year of buying them. The returned merchandise is cleaned and donated to charity.
Waldman says, she felt like women were delaying buying or afraid to buy clothing if they felt like their body size was changing. They also often bought the wrong size clothing and then never wore it. “How do we change this?” Waldman asks. “Why don’t we have a collection of core pieces that allow you to buy for exactly the size you are now and if go up or down in size within a calendar year, you can get the same clothes in new size?”
The name Universal Standard reflects the brand’s desire to be practical, utilitarian, fresh and modern, she says.
While Universal Standards’ clothing comes in sizes 10 to 28, Waldman says it will expand in either direction.
“There’s no future for plus-size fashion if we’re thinking about it,” she says. “It’ just going to be fashion for women. We wanted to name the brand to be something that heralded that kind of thinking.”