Plus-Size Jewelry is Still a Widely Untapped Market
07.10.17

Lack of size diversity remains a widely recognized issue in the fashion industry — not just on the runway, but also in actual stores. It’s counterintuitive from a profit standpoint, because the average American woman is a size 16, amounting to a considerable untapped consumer base. If you thought the plus-size clothing market was being underserved, though, it’s got nothing on the plus-size jewelry market, which is so overlooked most people don’t even realize exists.

Enter Universal Standard, a plus size-inclusive brand that recently launched a limited-edition, size-extended jewelry collection. “The most basic problem is just that it doesn’t fit,” Alexandra Waldman, co-founder and creative director of Universal Standard, said in an interview with Mic. “Regular jewelry isn’t made to scale. This is a line of jewelry that is meant to look native on a bigger body. The longer necklace falls exactly as it should on a longer body. The rings fit. The jointed choker always lays flat on the chest, and can be worn on a larger neck really beautifully.”

In other words, the collection is designed to fit correctly and *lay* correctly on a plus-size body — two factors that are rarely considered where most jewelry is concerned. It’s a plus-size fashion problem that Waldman says isn’t well-known mainly because it just doesn’t occur to people who aren’t plus-size.

Universal Standard’s collection is comprised of six, silver-plated pieces: a bracelet, a pendant necklace, a choker, two rings and a pair of earrings. Prices range from $40 to $70. The aesthetic is sleek and minimalist, with a wearable, go-with-anything type of vibe.

I was chatting with Emily, Man Repeller’s visual manager, who has spoken and written at length on Man Repeller about her gripes with the limitations of plus-size fashion, and while she was pleased that plus-size jewelry options are becoming more available, she’s frustrated there is yet to be a collection that veers toward the maximalist end of the personal-style spectrum. “There is a growing repertoire of minimal jewelry for plus-size women, which is great,” she told me. “I’m glad there are more options in general, but there are no options for cool, exciting, high-end maximalist jewelry. Fun jewelry is one of those things that should be universal. I am already discouraged and disappointed enough when it comes to the limitations in the plus-size clothing market, but to then not be included in the excitement around jewelry either is doubly annoying.”

She also described the relief of rare moments when she doesn’t feel limited by size exclusivity: “I recently ordered a straw hat for summer, and it was so refreshing to be able to choose my size and not feel limited, or like I’m not worthy to wear the hat due to my size, which is how I’m often made to feel with jewelry.”

Waldman commented on this complicated feeling of “worth,” too, as it pertains to fashion: “For a very long time, we were taught that you get what you deserve for being bigger,” she told Mic. “Your lack is a state of being in response to a bigger body. But I think with everything happening right now, it’s turning on its ear. We want to be able to make things for this woman that straight-size women have had for years.”

Kudos to Universal Standard for moving the needle for plus-size jewelry. Here’s hoping more and more brands start to nudge it further.

Photo via Universal Standard, collaged by Ana Tellez

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  • Danielle Cardona Graff

    The untapped potential of the Plus Sized market amazes me. And the idea that a larger woman can’t wear something brighter and crazier is utterly absurd. What everyone forgets, (even smaller women who have a bit easier of a time shopping for clothes), is that when a garment or accessory is the correct size, and in some cases tailored to correctly fit the wearer, the options are literally endless. A super tall women can wear a mini when it’s the correct length, a petite woman can wear a maxi dress when the correct length, and a plus sized woman can wear prints, and colors, and be more adventurous with her accessories if the sizing and proper fit is made available!

    • belle

      This is so true. I often see the complaint online that plus size women should try to lose weight to fit into normal sizes, which 1. Is dumb…not everyone is naturally a 5’5″ and sample size AND 2. Women feel much more empowered to care for themselves if they are wearing clothes that allow them to feel like themselves! As someone who has struggled with depression/anxiety, which often leads to weight fluctuations, it’s much harder to get yourself to go out to a party or on a hike if your clothes aren’t comfortable and cute. EVERYONE deserves to feel comfortable no matter where they are on that spectrum.

      • Meg S

        Designers treat plus size women terribly. Not making collections in their sizes, telling them to lose weight, etc. I guess it’s a designer’s business if they want to cut out a portion of potential customers because they don’t think they should have to make the effort. Pandora makes bracelets that fit my wrist with no complaint, and I’ve practically thrown money at them for the majority of my jewelry. I spend almost my entire clothing budget at one store because they make clothes I like that fit me properly, and they make them in petite lengths.

  • Danielle Channell

    Thank you for writing and publishing this! As someone who works for a jeweler, I love coming across women who wear ring sizes 9-12. I am currently wearing a size 9 on my middle finger right now. I think something that is forgotten in the industry is that everyone loves a bit of sparkle. Jewelry is a universally fun experience and I love seeing women of all sizes included in the joy of jewelry. <3
    Feel free to visit http://www.ajaron.com to see beautiful rings in sizes 9, 10, 11, and 12
    Thank you! 🙂

    • Meg S

      My largest ring size is a 7, but I haven’t found anything but cheap costume jewelry that will turn your fingers green in larger sizes. Just because someone wears rings outside of standard sizes doesn’t mean they don’t deserve quality pieces.

  • Néo Bourgeois — Christum

    Leandra Medine reminds me of a well dressed Sarah Connor from Terminator. Man Repeller the movie should be in the works.
    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/896a1fc73bd52a80bbf81dd217caf31b41ea6db72077aba78bb8b4367e7d1f81.jpg

  • Thanks for sharing! I address this point by creating mainly earrings(universal for all) and lariat necklaces. My lariat necklaces, lets the individualized fit be created. All the best…

  • Samantha Grayson

    Hey there, Man Repeller team! We’re helping to usher forward this movement towards inclusive fashion with Ashley Nell Tipton of Project Runway Season 14 fame. Check out our feature here on Refinery29.

    http://www.refinery29.com/2017/07/162722/plus-size-jewelry-universal-standard

    Stay fierce, fashionistas!

    http://www.liveinexcess.com

  • stinevincent

    Jewelry is something that very few makers seem to realize has size implications at all. Necklace proportions and lengths can vary even on women the same size because builds vary so much. One woman’s upper chest length is another woman’s cleavage length. I don’t think my plight is anything like plus size women’s exclusion in general, but I have these dinky little wrists and never find bracelets for them. I’m happy to see more thought being put into sizing and fit. I also think the final fight for fit may come down most to tailors, handmaking, bespoke, and personalization.

  • Sue Ratcliffe

    I’m having trouble finding a gold wedding ring in my size. I can have one custom made but the price is prohibitive. It’s great to hear that the issue of plus size jewellery is being addressed and hopefully it will spread to gold jewellery as well.

  • Teresa Prince

    Thanks for looking out!I have big arms will everything is big on me except my nose.Born that way.I love bracelets and rings but there never are in my size.

  • 0ff-piste

    I’m genuinely glad to hear someone is doing this, but if we’re going to make jewelry in more than “one size fits all,” could someone please also make a smaller size as well? For me, shopping for wristwatches in particular is a special kind of hell. Very few contain enough removable links to fit snuggly.

  • Hasti Haghighi

    I think this is definitely an issue but at the same time I think smaller sizes are neglected more than plus sizes..

  • Emily

    Major labels and brands may not be inclusive to plus sizes, but a lot of indie and made to order Jewelers are as they make things specifically to each persons unique size. Sure you have to wait a couple of weeks and it may not be by some big designer but i think that’s way cooler. Atleast you’re getting something unique and tailor made. I know the idea of made to order/custom pricing can put some people off, but I’m a silver smith and you honestly get what you pay for. Most high street and even some luxury brands use cheap plated materials where jewels are concerned and sadly most of the time it’s not even worth buying into as it tarnishes and ends up in the bin within a couple of weeks/months. Atleast if you invest in a good piece of made to order jewellery, not only will it fit right but it’s much more sustainable long term and can last a lifetime.

  • Pily

    Have you checked the gemstone statement jewelry at agooaculture.com ? It’s amazing and adjustable for every woman’s size.