STORE SPACES

Plus-size ‘inclusive’ fashion start-up gets new funding; showrooms coming

BY Marianne Wilson

Universal Standard, the plus-size “inclusive” women’s apparel brand known for its sleek, stylish fashions and unusual return policy, is looking to expand — in several different directions.

The company, which launched in 2015, announced it has closed a $7 million round of Series A funding. The funding round was led by Imaginary Ventures with additional participation from actress Gwyneth Paltrow; Blake Mycoskie, founder of Toms shoes; and Sweetgreen co-founders Jonathan Neman and Nicolas Jammet.

Universal Standard plans to use the new capital to extend its size range from the current sizes 10 to 28 to sizes 6 to 32, and to add new executives. The company also plans to expand its showroom format nationwide. It currently has two showrooms, in New York and Los Angeles and open by appointment only, where customers can shop the full collection and consult one-on-one with in-house stylists.

In addition, Universal Standard wants to expand into new categories. The brand recently launched its first activewear collection, a five-piece line that sells from $45 to $85.

One of Universal Standard’s most notable — and unusual — features is its size-exchange policy, which it calls “Universal Fit Liberty.” Here is how the company describes it:

“Whether you’re a size 6, 16, or 26, weight fluctuates. It can go up and down creating not only an emotional rollercoaster, but a financial burden. If a piece from our core collection no longer fits due to size fluctuation, we’ll replace it with your new size, within a year of purchase, for free.”

The gently worn, returned clothing is cleaned and then donated to Dress For Success, a non-profit group that helps homeless and low-income women gain the skills needed to find living-wage jobs.

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STORE SPACES

Asian eyewear retailer in U.S. debut

BY Marianne Wilson

A fashion-forward eyewear brand based in Hong Kong has dropped anchor in the United States.

Mujosh has opened three U.S. locations, with stores at Stoneridge Mall, Pleasanton, California; and one at Westfield, San Francisco; and Glendale Galleria, Los Angeles. The brand is known for its innovative stylings which position eyewear as much as a fashion accessory as a tool to improve eyesight.

“The opening of the stores in the United States represent a significant milestone in the ongoing global business expansion for Mujosh,” the company said. “With its cutting-edge style and innovative spirit in both products and business models, the fashion eyewear brand is confidently bringing in a new exciting brand concept to the traditional eyewear market of the United States.”

Founded in 2010, Mujosh operates over 800 specialty stores located in high-end shopping malls and department stores covering Mainland China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia, Vietnam, Australia, and Canada. The brand’s in-house designers are based in Hong Kong, Mainland China and Korea.

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Fast-casual sandwich chain growing fast

BY Marianne Wilson

Jersey Mike’s Subs is on the move.

On the heels of opening more than 170 stores in 2017, the New Jersey-based submarine sandwich chain plans to open 200 new locations, including franchise and corporate, in 2018. The company aims to have more than 2,000 stores open nationwide by 2020.

In addition to continued expansion through franchising, Jersey Mike’s is also placing a focus on its nontraditional development. It is aggressively seeking to expand its presence in in major airports, universities and sporting venues throughout the country.

“Coupled with our strong franchise development pipeline, the exceptional success we experienced in 2017 has positioned Jersey Mike’s for continued growth in 2018, and we look forward to accelerating this momentum and continuing to take the brand to new heights,” said Hoyt Jones, president, Jersey Mike’s, which reported a 6% increase in same-store sales system wide in 2017.

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