An Intimate Conversation with Universal Standard
Hey Loves! I'm excited to bring you a very special post today! As you may know, it's a part of my mission to share information on great places to shop that cater to curvy women (like me)! When I was contacted with the opportunity to interview one of the founders of a plus size brand I've had my eye on for a while, I jumped at the chance. Alexandra (Alex) Waldman is the co-founder and COO of Universal Standard, a fast rising, luxury apparel brand for curvy and plus size women. You guys, I pretty much geeked out at the thought of talking to her, and rightly so...the brand has been featured on the Today Show, People Style, InStyle, Forbes and HuffPost-just to name a few. As I prepared for my call, I knew I wanted to get to know Alex, and why this brand is so important right now in the fashion community. After we exchanged introductions, she shared a few thoughts with me in our conversation below.
Alex, can you give me your 30 second commercial about Universal Standard for those who don't know about the brand?
Alex: Universal Standard carries sizes 10-28 of elevated essentials. There's nothing like it in this space. We are modern and well fitting.
Is Universal Standard a great representation of your personal style? How would you describe your style?
Alex: I would describe my style as Feminine Minimalism, and yes, Universal Standard is a representative of my personal style.
There are so many great looks from the Universal Standard. Do you have a favorite piece in your collection?
Alex: I don't have a favorite piece, but what I wear regularly are our jeans. I love all of our sweaters this Fall as well.
Sweaters from the current collection. I love them!
Do you see a lot of diversity in the fan base of Universal Standard?
Alex: We have great diversity in the women who wear our product. If you head over to our Instagram page, you'll see a wide range of women. It's fantastic.
Switching gears a bit, what do you think about the term Body Postive? What does that mean to you, and to Universal Standard?
Alex: Body Positive is a very personal conversation, one that I think is separate from fashion. The brand feels it's important not to muddy the waters. Straight size girls don't fall on their knees every time they find a dress that fits. This shouldn't be the conversation all the time. I get confused when other brands focus on this, and not the apparel. Universal Standard is focused on leading a change in the plus size apparel space.
What's been your biggest criticism of the brand? What are you hearing from your customers/peers?
Alex: Of course we've experienced criticism. The most consistent is the price factor. In an industry dominated by fast fashion, "she" is comfortable with a certain price point. At US, a direct to consumer brand- there is no middle man, so no markup price. Buying a shirt that cost as much as a sandwich could have been made by someone making 13 cents an hour. Most people don't know that the apparel industry is only second to the oil industry in terms of pollution..and we don't want to play a part in that. We hear consistently that plus size women have the wallet share, but it's been for fast fashion pricing.
OK. I get it. The clothing can be a bit expensive...so do you have a success story of turning someone into a fan of the brand?
Alex: Yes. Many. When we have people come into our showrooms and try our product on. Once they try it, they understand what we're doing. Then we have a customer for life.
At this point in your career, what are you the most proud of?
Alex: Building something that I hope will leave a legacy. I want people to look at US and feel nervous they aren't providing the same level of service and quality. We can stand behind our product and can compare ourselves to straight size brands (in terms of style she thinks of straight size brands over plus size brands). The woman I'm designing for- she's my inspiration.
Speaking of the women you are designing for, what's been the feedback on your multi-city road trip across the US? I know you'll be in Chicago October 26th-28th and ending the tour in NYC early November...
Alex: It's a bit of a love fest. We've been meeting the people who love what you do, and have been fans of the brand since the beginning. We're an online company that finally gets to put faces to the names.
Any surprises on the road tour?
Alex: You don;t know what to expect. This (plus size industry) is a hard space to look elegant and cool in...and our customers do it. Women are wearing the clothes, not letting the clothes wear them.
Last question. Finish this sentence for me: I wouldn't be caught outside without my __________.
Alex: Lipstick. It's pretty much the only thing I wear.
Ok I lied...any last remarks about US?
Alex: The important thing is minds are expanding because they have to. We are seeing things change for the better in the industry. I look forward to making more products and seeing more retailers come into this space.
Clearly I was meant to talk to this amazing woman. We all know I love a bold red matte lip! Midwest girls- make sure to head up to Chicago to see this brand in person starting...TODAY! I'm including the pop-up info below! Special thanks to Alex and the Universal Standard crew for being so cool. Stay tuned for a very special giveaway I will be doing in November. Trust me- go fall in love with the brand now, because you will want to win this giveaway! Now...back to perusing the site for my next look...
**All images courtesy of Universal Standard. This is a sponsored post, but all opinions are my own.