Universal Standard's New Book Imagines An Inclusive Fashion Industry

Courtesy of Universal Standard

This season, Universal Standard is skipping a traditional spring collection and choosing a more unconventional approach: book publishing. The size-inclusive retailer released What Would Fashion Look Like if it Included All of Us?, a book which aims to challenge stereotypes of what’s considered beautiful in the fashion world. Illustrated by artist Alison Hawkins, it may be geared toward children, but its message is one that transcends your age or stage in life.

“When the idea for a children’s book was floated, we immediately saw its multilayer impact, authenticity, originality, charity component, and the role it had to play in our changing times,” Universal Standard’s co-founder and chief creative officer, Alex Waldman, tells Bustle. “You can’t imagine how many women have written in saying, ‘Where was this book when I was growing up?!’ and ‘I can’t wait to make this part of my class reading!’”

One hundred percent of proceeds from the book sale will be donated to Save With Stories, in partnership with Save The Children and No Kid Hungry. In response to COVID-19, Save With Stories is driving donations to provide books, learning materials, and meals to children in the country’s most affected communities. Digital copies are also available for free download online, providing parents easy access to the book, with the option to make a donation to the charity.

“It went from concept to hard cover in three weeks,” Waldman shares. “This particular time, our message is in the form of a children’s book, but we really hope it serves as a reminder to all of what’s possible. This is a movement that will make fashion look at inclusivity as the creative opportunity it is: the opening of many doors, and a huge win for everyone on the fashion, industry, and consumer sides.”

Courtesy Universal Standard

Now that it can cross book publishing off its list, what’s next for the Universal Standard team?

“We’re continuing to work with other brands who are equally excited about a more inclusive future in fashion, through capsule collections, as well as consulting behind the scenes,” Waldman says. “We hope our book inspires more in the fashion industry to embrace all of us, as we are.”

Coinciding with the book release is a shoppable fashion edit on the Universal Standard website, which includes all of the pieces featured in the book itself. “The book really does speak our language — word and illustration,” Waldman says. “If you look carefully, you’ll see a few familiar pieces. There is even a nod to our collaboration collection with Rodarte.”

Ahead, check out some of the pieces featured in the book that are available to shop right now.

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Waldman suggests eschewing trends altogether and simply reaching for what feels good. “These days, the ‘sartorial spotlight’ is more akin to ambient lighting,” she explains. “You can wear what feels right and strikes your mood.”

“Personally, I love the idea of flowing shirt dresses with strappy flat sandals, anything that feels light and easy,” Waldman says.

She’s also into wearing something with “a subtle sheen,” especially when mixed with a pop of matte. “It’s super simple and very chic,” Waldman says.

A sharp, tailored blazer instantly elevates any look. Throw it over whatever T-shirt you’re wearing, and you’ll be instantly ready for those last-minute Zoom calls.

Consider this the grown-up version of the plain white shirt. Not sure what to wear? Don’t overthink: Pair a crisp white button-up with your favorite jeans and be done with it.

Finding vintage denim that’s perfectly worn-in can be downright exhausting. Save yourself the stress with the light wash version of these jeans, a Universal Standard favorite.

A burst of color goes a long way. This deep red hue can be worn with your go-to black trousers, your light and dark wash denim, and pretty much everything in between.

Everyday jeans that can be toughened up with an edgy leather jacket and boots, or kept casual with an oversized sweater and sneakers.