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Polina Veksler & Alex Waldman

Co-Founders, Universal Standard

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Polina Veksler and Alex Waldman jointly founded the global retailer Universal Standard, renowned for its innovative size-inclusivity policy. The brand was born as Veksler and Waldman’s mission to break down the hard barriers between sizing in fashion, bringing modern, high quality garments to double-digit sizes. Waldman is the creative director, while Veksler serves as CEO.

While shopping together, Waldman and Veksler were confronted with the lack of modern, high-quality clothing options available in both their sizes. Determined to correct this disparity and create equal access to style for women of all sizes, the two invested $150,000 each into founding Universal Standard, and their 8-model launch sold out in six days. In 2016, the brand opened their New York showroom, switched to a weekly drop structure and launched a highly anticipated denim jeans line with an initial 1,700-person waitlist.

The brand underlines its “fashion freedom” mission with the added accommodation to smaller sizes in their newer ranges, now offering sizes 00-40. It also received much recognition for its “Universal Fit Liberty” return policy programme, offering returns on products for a year, depending on whether a client’s size changes, as well as its “See It in Your Size” online shopping option. Universal Standard opened its Seattle showroom, partnering with J.Crew on a fitness wear collaboration and has also collaborated on collections with Rodarte and Goop.

The company has also attracted the attention of Net-a-Porter founder Natalie Massenet , MatchesFashion founders Tom and Ruth Chapmen and Goop’s Gwyneth Paltrow, each contributing to Universal Standard’s $7 million Series A funding round. In 2018, Universal Standard made Fast Company’s list of the “Most Innovative Companies.”

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