Since its inception in 2015, Universal Standard has sought to get rid of the plus-size category — a category that, according to the brand's co-founder and creative director, Alexandra Waldman, has failed to bring people in double-digit sizes the same level of design and quality as smaller sizes. The solution to her was simple: Make shopping fun for everyone, and team up with the best in the business on capsule collections that invite all bodies to take part in the fantasy of fashion.
The latest industry star to contribute to Universal Standard's size-inclusive, aspirational aesthetic is British-Canadian designer Erdem Moralioglu, whose namesake label is known for decadent craftsmanship and exquisite eveningwear (and who Waldman met through a mutual friend). Of course, Covid-19 played a role in how they could go about executing this collaboration, but Waldman says that working with a smaller team made pandemic-fueled obstacles much easier to overcome. Plus, they were still able to have the collection ready to go by the original launch date.
"Despite the fact that we had to collaborate across the world through screens, it was an enormous pleasure to work with him and his team," Waldman tells Fashionista. "We donated the expertise to do the whole line and the 00 all the way to 40 and to make sure that anyone could wear this. All of the fabrication expertise and the sizing and the sort of engineering expertise of the clothing was ours, but the design was pure Erdem."
The eight-piece capsule, which ranges in price from $120 to $198, is centered around denim, done in a soft cream and a washed indigo. There are two different jean styles — a wide-leg boyfriend jean and a high-waisted skinny jean with a double-button sailor front — as well as a denim boiler suit, a deconstructed denim skirt, a floral print cotton shirtdress with ruffle trim and a short or long-sleeved floral-print cotton shirt with ruffle trim and smocking. It was actually Moralioglu's idea to go the more casual route and do a denim-focused collection. And having built the brand on a strong denim foundation, Waldman was thrilled to see what he could do with it.
In a press release, Moralioglu said of the project: "There's a beautiful universality in denim and with careful design you can achieve a wonderful permanence. Fashion for everyone means designing consciously beyond the boundaries of shape or trend."
The most impactful collaborations are those that truly push the boundaries of the creators. With this, Moralioglu pushed himself to create for a customer who has fewer formal galas to attend, while Universal Standard pushed itself to embrace florals — an unusual print for a label rooted in perennial basics.
"What we're trying to do is create an atmosphere where each collaboration has its own life and breathes its own breaths," Waldman explains. "We want to continue bringing these extraordinary collaborations to the world and to allow women who have been locked out for so long and so randomly locked out, to have access to these beautiful things. It seems like such a no-brainer every time I say that, I think, what are we even pitching here? This is the way it should always have been. So to me, this is about just opening the doors and saying, yes, you can have access. You should have access. You must have access. And just introducing this kind of design to a much bigger audience."
The limited-edition collection is available now on Universal Standard's website.
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