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Oooh, Target. It seems like America’s favorite big-box retailer is always trying to brand themselves as “body positive” and “size-inclusive” in an effort to capture headlines, but when the plus size community takes a closer look, the actual execution isn’t often there. They’ve made strides with lines like A New Day and aim to take inclusivity to a new level with their latest launch, Universal Thread.
Universal Thread, not to be confused with Universal Standard, is available in sizes 00-26 with every item priced $39.99 or less. The promotional lookbook for the launch, as seen in the gallery below, has a very Madewell/American Eagle/Good American vibe, which I appreciate. At first glance, I was thrilled to see trendier denim styles available in larger sizes, like the Denim Midi Skirt and Tie Front Wide Leg Jeans. It’s frustrating to see sizes 00-18 separated from sizes 14w-26w online (I haven’t seen the line in my local store yet), but I am happy to see a wider variety of plus size models being used editorial and e-commerce photography. I realize that this separation could be the result of a variety of factors, but altruistically, size inclusivity to me means that we would all have the same shopping experience.
My initial reaction to this launch is overwhelmingly positive, as casual pieces & everyday basics are categories that are still very needed in an underserved market. So often clothing above a size 14 is treated like a costume, which is great if that’s your vibe, but there aren’t many occasions where looking like a cat-loving cupcake is appropriate in my day-to-day life. I’m frequently frustrated with how difficult it feels to pull off the polished t-shirt and jeans vibe when my straight-size counterparts make the look appear so effortless, so I always welcome more options & innovation in this space.
One thing, in particular, to look out for while shopping Universal Thread (or Target in general, sadly) is the low to nonexistent stretch content of some of the items. While I know many of us are tired of elastic waistbands, I still want (and frankly, need) stretch in most of my pieces to be comfortable, especially denim. Naturally, I’m also disappointed that sizes 28+ aren’t represented in the launch, especially when such encompassing words like “universal” are used. The lack of stretch may also cause shoppers to size up, but time (and the reviews) shall tell.
Overall, the line is a promising step towards inclusion and we’re long overdue for a denim renaissance in fashion. Target’s Bullseye blog has an interview with the designers, should that strike your fancy. If you’ve already tried some items from the launch, whether you’ve purchased pieces or not, I’d love to know!