Historically, designer collaborations with various high street and mid-market labels have enjoyed great success thanks to a more accessible price point. It is rare, however, that such collections offer clothes for all. In many ways, then, Erdem Moralıoğlu’s new partnership with US-based brand Universal Standard is a momentous thing indeed. Launching today, the collection features denim pieces alongside Erdem’s distinctive take on floral prints – all available in sizes 00 to 40 (UK sizes 2 to 44).
It may be something of a surprise to see such a denim-heavy collection from a designer like Moralıoğlu. But the end result feels like a happy marriage between the two labels’ own aesthetics – Universal Standard’s pared-back uniform and Erdem’s romanticism. In terms of the denim, there are two different styles of jeans – wide-legged boyfriend jeans and high-waisted skinny jeans – as well as a boiler suit and a skirt, while there’s also a floral print cotton shirt dress with ruffle detail and a pretty blouse available with both long and short sleeves.
‘There’s a beautiful universality in denim and with careful design you can achieve a wonderful permanence’, says Moralıoğlu. ‘Fashion for everyone means designing consciously beyond the boundaries of shape or trend.’ This collection comes hot on the heels of the announcement that Moralıoğlu’s eponymous label would start offering its collections in extended sizes, with campaign images to match, featuring women of all shapes and sizes. ‘I began to realise there was a need for more inclusive sizing through my bespoke clients,’ Erdem told Grazia earlier this year. ‘I originally sold up to a 16, then 18 and, once I realised there was a desire from our clients for more sizes, I started the process.’
Universal Standard, meanwhile, is a brand built on the very foundations of offering clothes for everyone, currently providing the largest commercially available size range in the world. For Alexandra Waldman, one of the brand’s co-founders, it just seemed obvious. ‘This is all from personal experience,’ she told Grazia. ‘I’ve lived in a bigger body all my entire adult life and so I know what’s out there and what’s missing. Our [sizing] system means that between each size, we take a separate approach rather than using a formula to go from double zero to size 40 because at that rate, a mini skirt would become a wedding gown by the time you get to the larger sizes. We make sure every size looks like it’s native to the body it’s being worn by.’
Speaking about the new collaboration with Erdem, Waldman said: ‘We want the industry to keep witnessing that size equality is the only way forward. Access for all doesn’t end with us. Together with Erdem, we aim to change the way fashion looks for all of us and the way we look at fashion. This is to the benefit of the industry, the consumer, and the idea of fashion equality.’
It’s no secret that fashion has long catered to a very specific body type, ignoring the fact that the average size for women in the UK is a 16, or 18 in the US. The consequences have not affected the fashion industry, though – rather it is those women who have struggled just to find clothes that fit, leaving so many feeling demoralised and excluded. So, it really is difficult to underestimate the impact of collections such as these, which incorporate size equality into the very fabric of the clothes – it’s not merely a marketing tactic. Last year, Universal Standard released a collection with Rodarte, which proved to be a sell-out success. It looks likely that Erdem x Universal Standard will be just as popular.