In a sign that the plus-size movement is making it out of the margins and into the mainstream, J.Crew just launched a new collection of clothes that go all the way from size XXS to size 5X. The megabrand has partnered with the two-year-old startup Universal Standard, which has become known for creating stylish, high-quality and well-tailored garments from size 6 to size 32.
It’s not easy to make the same outfit across such a wide range of sizes. Until recently, most apparel companies have either focused on plus sizing (see: Lane Bryant and Eloquii) or so-called “straight” sizing (see: every other brand on the market). Brands generally design an outfit, create a pattern in a medium size, and then size up and down proportionally, based on a formula.
But if you have a size 8 pattern and size it proportionally up to a size 40 (or a 5X), the sleeves will likely end up touching the floor. Universal Standard has developed a time-intensive strategy of testing each size that it makes by putting it on a model, then making adjustments to ensure a perfect fit.
By collaborating on this capsule, Universal Standard is not only bringing its sleek, urban aesthetic to a wider market, it’s also sharing its expertise with J.Crew.
J.Crew says this isn’t just a one-off collection, but is part of the brand’s broader effort to become more size-inclusive. When I spoke with Alexandra Waldman and Polina Veksler, Universal Standard’s founders earlier this year, they said that their goal has always been to bring a broader change to the fashion industry and break down the barriers between plus and straight sizing. This new partnership goes a long way to turning that vision into a reality.