The collection, which launches today online and in select Adidas stores in New York City, Santa Monica and Portland, will carry five styles in four colorways in a range of sizes that’s broader than what the athletic giant typically offers: sizes XXS-4XL. The pieces are priced from $40 to $90.
According to Universal Standard co-founder Alex Waldman, Adidas came to the company about eight months ago and proposed a collaboration. Partnerships like these are nothing new for Universal Standard, which offers an unprecedented size range of 00 through 40 and is often referred to as the most size-inclusive brand in the world. Universal Standard has partnered with several other brands, including J.Crew, Goop and Rodarte, in the past to bring its knowledge of extended sizing to outside brands and retailers.
“Adidas is obviously a huge global brand, and part of our mission at Universal Standard is to really bring this change to the world,” Waldman said. “Globally, we’d like to see all brands creating this type of change, where it becomes about accessibility and not about size.”
That attitude, Waldman said, reflects Universal Standard’s simple approach to sizing: Don’t think of it as size. “We do the broadest size range in the world because we take size out of the conversation. We just want it to be a non-issue; it should be access for everyone.”
Universal Standard brought its fit method to Adidas to help create the collection, and Adidas plans to use the lessons it learned to bring extended sizing to more of its products down the line. In this method, every size is fitted on a model of that size to make sure the clothes look the same across the collection.
Using this method to create a line for a broader size range avoids the problem of products becoming warped, Waldman explained. “It becomes like a photocopy of a photocopy of a photocopy, when you do it by formula. By the time they get to the bigger sizes, they don’t even look like cycling shorts—they look like culottes.”
Universal Standard is also leaning on athleticism in a new campaign that’s all about movement—but not in the way consumers assume. Instead of featuring top-tier athletes, this campaign was cast with models in a variety of sizes and aims to showcase the more everyday uses women have for athletic wear, rather than the sporty moments most often seen in advertising and media.
“Quite often when we’re talking about women in sports, they’re really shown as men: It’s very aggressive, it’s very competitive, it’s very sweaty, screaming and shouting,” Waldman said. “And of course there is that, and women are just competitive as men are, and there’s a lot of talent out there on the professional field. But there’s also a huge percentage of women who just live in their bodies, and that state of being is an athletic action.
“We wanted to show the mother who had a baby and is trying to get back to her original size,” she added. “We want to show girls who are in collaborative group sports, where they really enjoy each other’s company, women who are trying and not always getting the basket. We wanted to show various bodies in motion and movement, and that they were all beautiful and extraordinary, and worth being taken seriously.”
The campaign will be seen on the New York City subway, which Waldman said was an intentional choice to showcase that Universal Standard is made for all women, no matter how different they appear to be—just like the demographics of subway riders.
“We wanted to show a whole bunch of women sitting in the subway, and you don’t even know what they have in common, because they could not be more different—then you realize they’re all wearing Universal Standard,” she said. “With us, the brand rotates around the customer, rather than asking the customer to change into an archetype that represents the brand.”