We are so thrilled to have introduced Universal Standard, a new minimalistic plus size brand, to our members, and we jumped at the opportunity to visit the brand’s NYC showroom to talk to creators Alexandra Waldman and Polina Veksler. Alexandra, the designer, and her business partner, Polina, welcomed us to chat about elevated essentials, modern style, designing for the plus woman, and what we can expect next from the young brand.
Garamond Vested Blazer in Universal Black and the Avenir Tulip Dress In Universal Black (coming soon)
Chic sweaters, super-soft tops, and architectural blouses—Universal Standard created a staple-focused grouping of eight pieces for its inaugural collection earlier this year. These are items meant to be lived in: those key pieces you can throw on for everyday life while always looking and feeling stylish. “When we started doing this, one of the things we wanted this to be was style relevant. [It had to be] clothes you wanted to live in and look like you love fashion,” says Alexandra. “So, it’s a unique dress you wanted to throw on, or a pair of jeans a jacket and a pair of running shoes to look cool running to the store. That’s the kind of stuff we wanted to do.”
As a consumer of the plus market herself, Alexandra has designed clothing that she felt was missing when she went shopping. In her former career as a fashion journalist, Alexandra was surrounded by gorgeous clothing that she felt was a “look, but don’t touch” environment. Sharing a story of interviewing a particularly iconic designer in Tokyo and having to buy a XXL Men’s shirt to wear to meet him, she explained, “That’s how bad it is.” She confided, “I don’t think people realize. It’s not about clothes. It’s about fashion. I wanted to wear what I’m writing about and that just wasn’t available.”
Polina Veksler (left) and Alexandra Waldman (right) posing with their beloved dress form, Lucy, wearing the Geneva Dress In Anchor Grey (coming soon)
Polina jokes she sees the minimalist aesthetic within the plus market as a “white space within a white space.” She continued, “We looked at brands that I love like Theory, Vince, rag & bone, and they just stopped making clothes at a size 10/12. Why can’t we make the same quality and the same modern minimalist look just a little bit bigger and give the opportunity to over 70% of women in the US to wear them?”
Genevette Top In Patriot Blue and the Didot Unzip Skirt In Universal Black (both coming soon)
Alexandra understands that it’s not simply a matter of just scaling up a straight size garment to make it fit the plus market. We asked about creating the best fit for the plus customer and she tells us, “It is the single most important driving force [for us]. There are certain devices that need to be built in for comfort. There are areas I wear out more quickly because of the dimensions of my body.” Comfort and functionality are crucial elements to every piece they produce. That’s why they felt it was important to design their own fabrics. Universal Standard’s uniquely designed fabrics have stretch and an element of comfort without losing any of the style. Alexandra is especially passionate about the importance of getting it right. “Plus size women have been a captive audience for so long. So when we decided to take this on, we decided it really needed to feel good, not just look good.”
Alexandra shows off the brand’s newly revamped website
Okay, we’re hooked. So, what’s next for Universal Standard? A new collection with 35 pieces coming soon! We got a sneak peek of what’s to come on the brand’s new homepage (above). Ready to check them out? Closet the latest here on Gwynnie Bee and keep your eye out for more great Universal Standard styles to come.