Here’s a long-overdue moment: retailer J. Crew, which has built its brand success upon creating iconically American fashion, is finally making a significant gesture to include the 68 percent of American women who wear a size 14 or above. In collaboration with “fashion freedom” brand Universal Standard, J.Crew is now offering a capsule collection that ranges from xx-small to 5x.
“What excited me most about this Universal Standard for J.Crew collaboration was that it heralded a new era,” says Universal Standard co-founder Alexandra Waldman in a promotional video. “An era of unifying women, in terms of their style. No longer segregating them by body size.”
Universal Standard was founded in 2015 to offer “modern essentials with a chic, downtown yet classic aesthetic” to women sized 6-32. The brand’s first eight-piece collection sold out in six days, clearly demonstrating the yawning gap in the retail market for simple, high-quality clothing for all women. In the few years since, they have become a favorite of plus-sized fashion lovers, recently creating a capsule collection with Orange Is the New Black’s Danielle Brooks.
As reported by Fashionista, J.Crew worked closely with Universal Standard to learn about how to best create patterns and fits that are flattering on every body type. Lisa Greenwald, Chief Merchandising Officer of J.Crew, said:
We wanted to work with experts in the field on this collection to kick off a much larger roll out of extended sizes, new fits and fabrications across the brand ... We recognized Universal Standard’s highly technical approach and reached out to them to help create a new collection tailored for the real, diverse spectrum of the American woman.
Universal Standard was eager to partner with the legacy brand, as Waldman says in the promotional video:
J. Crew is one of the great American brands; when they got in touch and said, “We really want to understand how to this properly, and we would like to learn from your learnings,” I knew that it would mean a very, very significant and real change for plus-size women in general.
The 36-piece Universal Standard x J.Crew collection—which is quickly selling out online and will be available in select stores on July 16—is based on a traditional J.Crew aesthetic, including preppy stripes, ginghams and heavy doses of red, white and blue. More significantly, it marks a major shift for J.Crew, which has faced flagging sales in recent years, as well as a major changing of the guard.
Notably, the extended size range isn’t limited to this collaboration; the brand at large has also rolled out select styles in sizes up to a 24 and will continue to do so, indicating that this is just the beginning of a more inclusive J.Crew. As Waldman notes, it’s a triumph for not only the plus community but women everywhere:
This is very exciting because when many brands expand sizing, it is done as a subcategory, or a separately designed line sized for the plus-size consumer. This collection is completely inclusive with fits to serve the full spectrum of women’s sizes. For the first time ever, the line separating plus- and straight-size women will be erased, and every woman will have the opportunity to shop the same rack, with taste as her only filter.