Polina Veksler and Alexandra Waldman sit down with Jenna to share how Universal Standard is creating enduring change in the fashion industry — From building a size irrelevant brand to introducing their Fit Liberty Program and eliminating the notion of paying an emotional price for clothing.
Key Learnings and Highlights
- On being a beginner: “Don’t be afraid of not knowing how to do something. It can serve you very well… Your crazy ideas don’t seem very crazy once they’re done.”
- On size irrelevance: “Clothing has been represented on smaller sizes and we have been programmed to think that is the average. This is absolutely not the case. 100 million women are size 14 and above. How could such a vast majority of women not be able to go to any store or website and buy clothing based on their style, not by what is available to them based on their size? Our intention isn’t to be a size inclusive brand. We are specifically a size irrelevant brand. This is something that is adaptable and adoptable by the entire industry. Size doesn’t have a role to play in the apparel market if things are done correctly. We wanted to plant our flag and say: We are a brand for women. Not a brand for plus women or small women or whatever demographic. We are a brand where you can shop, whoever you are.”
- On not paying an emotional price for clothing: “We are huge supporters of the body positivity and self-love movements. It’s incredibly important for the current and upcoming generations but it is a separate and important thing. A lot of brands try to hijack that emotional vulnerability in order to sell frocks. We just don’t believe that is the right way to look at it. We really feel that your clothes are your clothes. Your style is your style. How you feel about your body is a personal thing. Combining those two creates the feeling of the other because size six women don’t need to talk about their body to buy style and fashion. The language they are spoken to is about adventure, travel, life, and experiences. For plus size women, it’s always about your body. It’s an important message, it should just be separated from the experience of providing yourself with fashion. We have to get past that or we are always going to be othering ourselves. We don’t need to pay emotionally for clothing.”
- On conscious consumerism: “Having a huge percentage of clothing that is being made semi-disposable is a very dangerous thing. If your shirt costs as much as a sandwich there is a problem. You should be asking yourself why it is so cheap because somebody had to make that and a company had to make a profit on it. There are a lot of people out there working for nothing in order for you to have a cheaper shirt. You have to ask yourself: Is it worth it? The apparel industry is second only to the oil industry when it comes to pollution. That’s both from the manufacturing side and the land fill side because fast fashion is made in bulk. So, not only are all of the things that don’t last thrown away but all of the things that are over produced are also thrown away. A lot of it is created and then thrown out. There are a lot of costs to fast fashion that people don’t take into consideration yet and really should be considered.”
- On pioneering enduring change: “Everything we do, in every category we pursue, we try to bring a new and different perspective on how we can make it better.”
- On resilience: “You always feel like you are biting off more than you can chew — Like there’s just too much and there’s no way it’s humanly possible to get it done and get it done right. My motto has always been: Just do it. Bite off more than you can chew and chew it.”