By Alexandra Waldman

“OMG! This is major!”

“I mean, I shop at J. Crew!!”

This was the reaction from my friend Julia when I told her that J. Crew approached US to design a capsule collection and help them permanently scale their brand to size 24. For a split second, we both saw the curtain that separated us, and what was behind it.

The sad fact is, there are places she gets to shop, and there are places I’m allowed to shop – and although I have always wanted what was on offer for her size-4 body, she has never longed for what was available to me at my size 20. It was a one-way love affair – unrequited, unheard, unacknowledged. But suddenly - there was J. Crew. Things were getting real. Suddenly the veiled, other-world of ‘plus-size fashion’ was transmogrifying into just ‘fashion’ before our very eyes. J. Crew was about to become the first mainstream brand to show everyone else what it was to be truly inclusive.

She was right - this was major!

Here is why this is different and so important:

J. Crew’s approach is not simply to make a guest capsule, a limited offering to say, Hey, look, we’re doing some plus stuff! It is not some distinctly separate sub-brand to say, Ok, we know you exist, but please stay on your side of the line. It is not a indifferently designed cluster of otherness, housed exclusively online. This is a move toward unapologetic, full-brand inclusivity for millions. It is not about plus size – it is about the American woman.

J. Crew made the decision to start bringing their entire women’s collection up to size 24, and allow US, through a capsule within their brand, to share what things might look like if they go from size zero to 32! By the end of this month, 50% of J.Crew’s women’s apparel will have already been made inclusive, with a plan for the rest of the expansion to continue thereafter.

Universal Standard, along with J.Crew’s team, helped the brand to grade for larger sizes, determine the best way to manufacture a broader spectrum, and address challenges that could arise due to the expansion of sizing. It was important to J.Crew to do this in a way that would make women feel like theirs was a brand that listened, and understood. J. Crew is determined to take down the barriers that have kept tens of millions of American women from participating in style. They are not doing it as part of a distinct, fenced-off area called ‘plus size’, but by putting it front and center, where Julia and I can shop together.

And in that, is a brave new world.

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