Alexandra Waldman and Polina Veksler — co-founders of the fashion-disrupting brand Universal Standard — aren’t just building a size-inclusive brand, they’re redefining normal for all women (and the industry).
We chose these two crush-worthy female founders as our first (of many) Curvy Crush highlights not only for opening access for all sizes to chic, minimalist style but also for their continued work dismantling size barriers that have long separated women into plus or non-plus camps.
Anyone who has felt size anxiety while shopping knows that this paradigm shift is long overdue. Meet the women who did something about it and launched the new standard in size inclusiveness, all-the-while empowering other brands to get with it and do the same, already.
From Friends to (Co)Founders
What started as a shopping trip between two friends led to a mission to change the way the fashion industry thinks about women and sizing. Three years ago, Waldman, size 20, and Veksler, size 6, realized just how big the choice gap between plus and non-plus shopping was when they couldn’t shop at the same places together on 5th Ave.
That experience set them on their path to launching Universal Standard in 2015, the unprecedented and instantly popular size-inclusive brand of our dreams. By 2019, their size range would expand to one of the most inclusive ever, 00-40 — finally offering a shopping experience that all women could experience together without excluding anyone based on size.
How Universal Standard Does Size Differently
We’re in love with Universal Standard – their chic minimalism, their mission for positive change, their commitment to representation as much an inclusion. But the behind-the-scenes strategy that drives all those things is what resonates with us the most. From their very first capsule collection to high-profile collabs with Rodarte, Waldman and Veksler have been committed to fit.
Instead of taking the easy (and cost-effective) way of scaling their styles up or down based on a formula, Universal Standard chose to fit every style on real women of every size. This is how we’ve been making Glamorise bras for nearly 100 years, too, and the difference — as Universal Standard’s success attests — is felt by the women wearing them.
Why Size Inclusivity & Representation Matter
How we see ourselves and our bodies is overwhelmingly affected by what we see around us. If we never see bigger bodies represented in the media or by the brands we love, the takeaway is clear: your body doesn’t belong here. If we can’t shop in the same store, on the same floor or at the same site as our sub-size-14 friends, we learn that we’re undeserving of the same consideration.
If we’re constantly asked to shrink to an exclusive standard, we start to see our bodies as temporary conditions instead of beautiful and powerful right now.
Size-inclusive brands like Universal Standard and Glamorise flip the script by turning the voice in our heads from the bully to the believer — belief that you’re worth it, belief that you deserve it, belief that you are normal, not a niche.
The New Normal (and the End of Plus Size)
Speaking of normal, did you know that 67% of women in the US are plus size? That’s right girlfriend, a solid majority.
In that light, it’s positively absurd that most brands’ size range ends right around where plus-sizing begins, 12-14. Like Waldman and Veksler, we imagine a world where monikers like plus-size, straight-size or size-inclusive are no longer relevant because the new normal doesn’t exclude anyone based on their size.
We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: the future is inclusive. And trailblazers like Waldman and Veksler are making big enough waves and breaking down old enough barriers that the future very much feels like now.
Author: Katie Joy Blanksma
Last updated on: 8/12/21
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