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Quick Pitch: Garments based on your cup size, bust measurement and torso length.
Genius Idea: Clothing for your shape, not your size.
Between 1939 and 1940, the U.S. Department of Agriculture surveyed the body measurements of 15,000 American women to come up with a standardized sizing system for women's apparel. That system, which reflects the average body proportions of women who were substantially shorter and thinner than American women today, remains the basis of the U.S.'s current ready-to-wear sizes for women's apparel.
That a system designed to produce well-fitted, mass-produced clothing off the rack is broken is obvious: Simply think about the proportion of garments you've tried on that haven't required some degree of tailoring, or just looked flat-out awful.
It's that very problem that inspired Christina Wallace and Alex Nelson, fellow graduates of Harvard Business School, to found their own label, Quincy. The label, which is designed by former Project Runway contestant Althea Harper, launched with five blazers last month.
When selecting a blazer on Quincy's website, you don't choose a size between 0 and 12. Instead, you select a bust size between 32? and 38?, an A/B or C/D cup size, and length (petite, regular or tall).
"It's height, hip to waist ratios, and bust measurements that vary the most between women," Wallace says of the rationale behind Quincy's sizing system. The Michigan native, who has a background in costume design, recognized the opportunity for a better fit system after taking a patternmaking course at the Fashion Institute of Technology last summer.
"[Nelson and I] looked at the dress forms, and they didn't look like the bodies of anyone we knew. So we decided to create women's clothing manufactured to accomodate shape rather than size," says Wallace, who herself struggles to fit into traditionally sized clothing because of her height.
Wallace and Nelson could have gotten into custom, made-to-order clothing, just as Blank Label and Indochino have for men's shirts and suits, respectively. But they opted to do sized clothing "it's a lot cheaper and quicker, and returns are much easier," says Wallace that is simply, well, better-sized.
Blazers are priced between $198 and $258, pitting Quincy against the likes of women's workwear labels such as Ann Taylor, J Crew, Brooks Brothers and Theory. Wallace emphasizes that Quincy is "not meant to be a high-end, exclusive line," but as "affordable and accessible as possible."
Quincy will be introducing a line of blouses and dresses in the coming weeks, followed by pants and skirts a month later. Full suiting will be made available this summer. Also on the horizon: expanding the size range and international shipping.
The startup has been bootstrapped so far, and is in the midst of a raising a seed round of funding.
Would you order clothing from Quincy? Sound off in the comments below.