Universal Standard Broadens Its Reach With Performancewear Geared for Large-Size Women

Convinced that the estimated 100 million American women who are above a size 14 deserve the same workout options as their straight-sizes peers, the direct-to-consumer e-commerce company has developed GAME by Universal Standard.



GETTING IN THE GAME: Major athletic labels like Nike and Lululemon aren’t the only ones developing performance-oriented collections for large-size women: Universal Standard officially launches its first activewear collection today.

Convinced that the estimated 100 million American women who are above a size 14 deserve the same workout options as their straight-sizes peers, the direct-to-consumer e-commerce company has developed GAME by Universal Standard. Alex Waldman, Universal Standard’s cofounder and chief operating officer, said, “This consumer is so consistently sidestepped in terms of quality and performance, that she is in a continual state of waiting to be taken seriously. We knew what was missing not only from the constant stream of feedback from this consumer — but from being this consumer.”

With an increasing number of brands competing in the category, the sports and fitness clothing business is expected to reach $231.7 billion in worldwide sales by 2024, according to a report by Global Industry Analysts Inc. Even UFC octagon girl Arianny Celeste, an HPE Clothing fan, has gotten in the game with a new fitness app “The Ultimate Body.”

Instead of fast-fashion styles like cotton leggings, oversized T-shirts and neon-colored activewear, Universal Standard has created full-length leggings, bodysuits, runner tanks and power Ts that are meant to hold up in health clubs. To that end, moisture-wicking, antimicrobial fabrics are used and there are also two different fabric blends that offer varying compression to provide activewear for a variety of workouts. The five-piece collection is offered in sizes 10 to 28 and retails from $45 to $85. Currently, wholesale is not a major part of Universal Standard’s business model but it has showrooms in New York and Seattle with in-house stylists to help shoppers. The GAME collection is made in Los Angeles.

With a wide range of categories — loungewear, cocktail dresses and outerwear among them — Universal Standard is trying to expedite shopping for women of all sizes. To accommodate all shoppers whose physiques are in flux, the company offers Universal Fit Liberty. Regardless if the consumer is a size 6, 16 or 26, she has the option of exchanging a piece from the brand’s core collection due to size fluctuation within a year of purchase with no added cost. The gently worn items that are returned to UFL are donated to Dress For Success, a group that helps homeless and low-income women gain the skills needed to find living-wage jobs.