Quince: Affordable Cashmere & a Fascinating Business Model
For the past several months, I’ve heard quiet buzz about Quince (pronounced kwins). In most advertising, I see it offered as an alternative to Everlane. So, I just assumed they were a middlingly transparent, direct-to-consumer model like most brands advertised to millennials these days.
Quince offers a curated collection of classic-meets-modern clothing, accessories, and home linens at unbeatable prices for the fabrication and quality. As they continued to appear on blogs I read, I became more curious about their business model and ethics.
So when a rep from Quince reached out, sending along some really informative articles that clearly described their business model, I immediately got to researching. (And props to them! So few brands are this helpful right off the bat.) I carefully pored over the articles and took a look at the website. And I was pleasantly surprised!
Quince’s Unique Business Model
Quince uses a business model termed M2C, or manufacturer to consumer. According to a TechCrunch article:
The idea is that Quince goes directly to factories with designs for essentials — not overly patterned or branded items — with an order that can dynamically adjust each week based on demand. As orders start coming in, Quince can work alongside manufacturers to ensure they aren’t over or under producing on a specific SKU. The factory then ships directly to the customer, rather than shipping to a distribution center or store and then again to the final destination.
While the benefits of this are obvious from a brand perspective, the produce-on-demand strategy is also more sustainable and, arguably, more ethical:
- It ensures that there’s no overproduction in the supply chain.
- It means that factories who haven’t been able to rely on big orders from larger-scale producers due to market fluctuations have an option to take on additional business.
- It brings the consumer price down on items without compromising wages or materials.
The M2C model carries a certain amount of uncertainty for factories, but no more than the uncertainty traditionally carried by the parent company. By making sure that orders correspond to actual sales, this model ensures that factories aren’t left on the hook for millions of dollars in unsaleable product (which has been a troubling consequence of Covid economic shifts). In addition, Quince offers their lowest prices year-round, so they don’t need to participate in seasonal sales to part with unsold merchandise or play the typical retail discount game.
Quince $50 Cashmere Sweater Review
Quince sent along their Cashmere V-Neck for review (I’ll be reviewing the sweatpants in a few weeks). I chose the sweater because it’s the most talked-about item Quince sells. You might say it’s “quince-essential” (please say you get my pun). Plus, the $50 price point is hard to beat. I wore it for a 12-hour car ride to test out comfort and warmth.
The first thing I’ll mention is that, compared to other budget cashmere I’ve tried, Quince’s feels more tightly-knit and slightly thicker. It’s also opaque in this green color (though I think the white one is more sheer). This Loden Green color is a cool-toned hue that compliments my skin and hair, and the v-neck has a flattering openness without being revealing. I normally wear a cotton shirt under my sweaters, because my skin is sensitive to wool and cashmere. But I wore this by itself and didn’t experience irritation from the cashmere, only from the tag.
In terms of fit, I’m wearing a Medium – which I would say is my normal size these days – and the fit is near-perfect. The sleeves are full length and the length of the body is just right, not cropped but not too long. I will need to wear it more to see if it pills, but I have to say that for its price point, it’s the best that I’ve tried.
P.S. Quince (kwins) is a type of fruit and also the word for fifteen (kin-se) in Spanish.
Leah Wise is the founder of StyleWise Blog. She has been writing, speaking, and consulting on sustainable fashion, the fair trade and secondhand supply chain, and digital marketing for over ten years. An Episcopal priest, Leah holds a B.A. in Religion from Florida State University and an M.Div. from Yale Divinity School. When not working, you can find her looking for treasures at the thrift store.
Monday 14th of December 2020
I've been looking for a sweater like this, and I appreciate the extra detail about their supply chain. Thank you for sharing!
Monday 14th of December 2020
Thanks for reading! I was super impressed with the concept, and surprised it's not more well known or prominent in their marketing.