Meet The Founders Of Quincy Apparel, A Design House That Sells Custom-Style Clothing For Women

christina wallace, alex nelson, quincy, clothing manufaturing, factory, march 2012, bi, dngQuincy co-founders Alex Nelson and Christina Wallace

Photo: Daniel Goodman / Business Insider

It’s tough to break into the fashion industry, and only labels that fill a void have a chance at making it.That’s what the co-founders of Quincy Apparel are banking on.

The key difference between Quincy and any other brand is its sizing concept. The company measures a woman’s size by her bust, waist and height ratios. The result is custom-style clothing for a fraction of the price.

Click here to see how Quincy’s clothes are made >
Quincy’s mix-and-match pieces range from slightly under $100 to $250. 

“If it doesn’t fit you, it doesn’t matter how trendy it is — it doesn’t look good. Fit is where we start everything as the fundamental to good style,” co-founder Christina Wallace told us. “We want to bring in some of the trends you see on the runway, the details you see at the designer price points and be able to offer them at a much more accessible price.”

For their tops, the brand uses a bust-cup and torso length system, so women will “finally be able to button their suits and jackets” (For example, a 36A-B Tall.) 

“Every brand today only does A-B cup sizes. Every jacket is for a B-cup or smaller,” co-founder Alex Nelson says. “We’ve added the C-D sizes, which allows us to reach 50 per cent of the population, because most women are a C-cup or larger.”

For bottom pieces, the two entrepreneurs decided to use a system that measures women’s body shape, waist and height (For example, an “hourglass-fit, 28-inch waist, 36-inch inseams”).

To be more relatable to the majority of the population, the brand is also making it a priority to use models with different body shapes, ethnicities and hair colour. 

“When you go to our site and look at a jacket in a certain size, you’ll be able to see a model wearing that exact size,” Nelson says. “From a smaller woman with a B-cup to a larger busted woman with a D-cup. I don’t know any other brands that does that. Usually it’s one model, she’s stick thin and a lot of women don’t relate to her.”

The original idea came to co-founder Nelson about a year ago when she was riding a double decker bus down Oxford Street in London. At the time, she was working in retail management for the Boston Consulting Group, and realised there was a demand for better professional attire for women. She eventually called Wallace — a friend from Harvard Business School who was also working for BCG  — and they decided to meet in Miami to talk over the idea.

After an intense brainstorming session, Nelson returned to London and Wallace went back to Washington D.C., but the two spoke every weekend, putting together business plans. A couple of months later, they began to raise money and Quincy’s first batch of samples were created.

They brought on Althea Harper, who’s worked for high-end designers like Alexander McQueen, Vivienne Westwood and Nicole Miller, and was runner-up for Project Runway season six. Harper is also known for designing fashionable pieces for curvy women.

“Our customers are everywhere from the 22-year-old straight out of college working her butt off at a bank downtown to the 29-year-old who has a creative job,” Wallace says. “The one thing that they all have in common is that they’re ambitious and they’re going somewhere. They’re style-conscious. They want to look great while they do it. But they have a lot to do. They’re on a fast-track to really become someone awesome.”

Nelson and Wallace also wanted to create a brand where young professionals could purchase pieces that would work for their office as well as their date after the work day.  

“That’s one thing we really heard from our customers is that they have such a busy schedule, they have so much going on, they need a wardrobe that will transition with them throughout the day,” Nelson said. “A lot of women feel like they have to change their clothes. They’re embarrassed to wear what they wear to work out for drinks. We’re giving women an entire brand where they have lots of choices.”

All of the orders are returnable and the brand even includes prepaid label boxes along with orders so consumers can buy multiple sizes at first to find their perfect fit. 

Quincy's clothes are made in the heart of New York City's Garment District, at 39th Street between 7th and 8th Avenues

Employees use an old-fashioned punch-in time card system

The fabric is often pressed before cutting to prevent wrinkles

Workers steaming pieces before the cut

Pattern pieces are laid out and taped together before the fabric is cut

A worker lays out the patterns

The pieces are bundled together for production

The thread comes in every colour imaginable

Each worker is an expert at their task and typically performs only that single task

A worker studies the fabric

So many buttons to choose from

A blazer is finished!

A model tries on one of Quincy's dresses

Finished pieces are hanging and waiting to fly off the racks

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