Universal Standard has launched a creative concept to build community. The brand has moved into a new space at 192 Mercer Street, fourth floor in New York, part of which it plans to loan out to people for free so they can hold parties, book clubs, community events, baby showers, or meetings. They’re calling it Universal Standard 1:1 NYC.
In addition, Universal Standard will host its own roster of events in the 2,500-square-foot “Clubhouse” space, which has a kitchen area. The location also has an adjacent 5,000 square feet of office space for its 25 employees.
“We have really learned through doing that the more you give, the more you get back from your customers,” said Alexandra Waldman, cofounder and creative director of Universal Standard, at a breakfast at the new location Tuesday morning. “The good will and loyalty has been tremendous. We’re not trying to be tricky, there are no membership fees,” said Waldman, who cofounded the brand with Polina Veksler, chief executive officer.
The brand, which caters to women from sizes 00 to 40, makes workwear, activewear (it has a collaboration with Adidas in sizes 2XS to 4XL), elevated essentials, outerwear, and denim. It also launched footwear recently, focusing on boots.
Waldman said the company will host roundtable and panel discussions “to keep the conversation going because the apparel industry is changing so radically.” She said the apparel business has been through a painful stretch. “A lot of people are having to experiment with things they wouldn’t do before, and that could mean extended sizing or getting involved with the social movement. Brands that want to remain relevant have to find the space in this new normal,” said Waldman.
Universal Standard, which began as a plus-size brand in 2015, always had the intention to be a brand for everyone.
Right now there are four of these Universal Standard 1:1 spaces in the U.S., and a fifth one will open in Portland, Ore., in a few days. They are located in Seattle, Houston, Chicago and New York.
Veksler added that the new normal is changing the way women look at fashion, and fashion looks at women. “It doesn’t matter what size you are. You should be able to go to any store or a web site, and ask yourself the question, ‘Do I like this?’ And, not ‘does it come in my size?’”
She said the brand hopes to give equal access to all communities, and offer a space that can be an extension of their home.
The space also has areas for stylists to meet one-on-one with customers to help them with their wardrobe needs. The space is available to walk-ins from the street and private appointments to purchase clothing.
The space can be booked on a first-come, first-serve basis through an online booking system that has a questionnaire. The space will be manned by Universal Standard employees.
Veksler noted that when they’ve opened these hubs in cities around the country, the company has found that its online traffic increases.
“It gives you more of an opportunity to boost your relationship with the brand and builds more brand loyalty,” said Waldman.
Veksler said the web site, universal standard.com, drops new product each week. “The whole idea is to keep the customer coming back. We’ll drop one or two times a week,” she said.
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