Quincy Apparel, Driven to Make Women’s Clothes Fit, Nabs $950K
Quincy Apparel, a New York-based women’s e-commerce site with a mission of improving fit, has raised $950,000 in a convertible debt-based seed round, the founders say. The round was led by Great Oaks Venture Capital, and included Launch Capital and a diverse group of angel investors such as Bobbi Brown Cosmetics co-founder Ken Landis, David Shen, serial entrepreneur David Lerner, MIT Sloan visiting assistant professor Zeynep Ton, Harvard Business School professors Tom Eisenmann and Clay Christensen, and Michael Marks.
Christina Wallace and Alexandra Nelson, Harvard Business School 2010 section mates who both went on to work for Boston Consulting Group, founded the startup last year. They were driven to start the company because professional clothes at reasonable price points tend to be frumpy, Wallace says. A project they did for HBS fashion tech startup Rent the Runway while at business school also provided some inspiration. “One of the things we had seen customers struggle with on their website was understanding sizes,” Wallace says.
Wallace and Nelson used their one-year HBS reunion in 2011 to poll their classmates on the problem of fit, and began working full-time on Quincy later that year, Wallace says.
To get the company started, the pair had to navigate New York’s garment district from the outside. They used their Harvard alumni directory to find contacts in the apparel industry and Wallace even took a class at FIT (Fashion Institute of Technology in New York) to learn the lingo when talking to potential suppliers.
Quincy released its line of women’s jackets in March and followed up a month later with a line of blouses and dresses. This fall they’re slated to introduce pants and skirts to their online store. While other startups tackling the fit problem focus on offering made-to-measure products, Quincy is creating a sizing system that takes into account women’s bust size, cup size, and length measurements, and yields about 30 different size combinations. The startup enlisted Althea Harper, alum of the TV show Project Runway, as its designer and has hired a technical designer to work more closely on the science of its measurements, Nelson says.
“It’s what’s best about the fast fashion of Forever 21 meets the quality of a J.Crew jacket,” Wallace says.
Quincy joins an emerging crop of startups in the fashion tech space that are going beyond social sharing or e-commerce platforms to focus on disrupting the supply chain and making their own products. It’s an area that venture investors are starting to pay more attention to, according to several of the panelists who spoke at the Decoded Fashion event in New York last month. Quincy lead investor Great Oaks has also backed Bonobos, the acclaimed men’s clothing startup, and Warby Parker, the online eyewear supplier.
For now, Quincy is integrating feedback from its early customers into the design of its fall releases. “We’re really reliant on real women as the input for our design process,” Nelson says.