Sometimes it feels like an apparel brand is EVERYWHERE. Out of nowhere, every online magazine, every influencer, every social media ad is promoting it. It's hard to tell if the stuff is good or crap, even if it's looking gorgeous on your favorite Instagrammer. For me the past year, I feel as though Quince clothing has been following me everywhere I go on the internet and I wanted to know if it truly lived up to the hype. I also wanted to know if Quince clothing would fit my midsize (size 14/16) 40-something soft curvy body. Because I've been burned by many sustainable fashion brands that only seem to work with certain body types and those certain body types are not mine.
Quince offers stylish yet sustainable “luxury” at hard-to-believe prices. We're talking $50 cashmere sweaters, $60 washable silk skirts, Italian leather handbags under $130, and 14K gold hoops for less than $100. And recently Quince began offering plus sizes, which they call extended sizes, up to 3X. You know me, I am skeptical of every brand, especially when it seems to be everywhere all at once so I did some digging.
Quince Clothing Review
While writing this review, without my prompt, Quince reached out and asked if I would like to try a few pieces of their apparel and accessories. I was thrilled and ordered the three pieces I had planned on purchasing myself: the Mongolian Cashmere Crewneck Sweater in Navy (size XL), the 100% Washable Silk Skirt in Navy (size XL), and since I recommended this bag in my post on how to get Jennifer Lawrence's crossbody bag look for less, the Italian Leather Convertible Crescent Shoulder Bag in Taupe.
I shared in the Wardrobe Oxygen Community on Facebook I would be doing this Quince clothing review and invited community members to share their experience shopping Quince. Their feedback will be interspersed through this Quince review. I felt their feedback would provide a more balanced review, and you can also hear from individuals with different bodies, of different ages, and different lifestyles and apparel needs.
Below I review the cashmere sweater, washable silk skirt, and leather handbag I received from Quince. I delve into what is Quince clothing, what makes Quince different, and my thoughts on whether Quince is truly a sustainable fashion brand.
Review of Quince Cashmere
I am usually a size XL from popular mall brands. J. Crew, Halogen, Madewell, Gap, Everlane, Boden… if I am buying a sweater or basic t-shirt from these retailers, that is the size I choose. I've found size charts to sometimes be inaccurate, so I look at it but make a guesstimate. So I asked for a size XL from Quince for the Mongolian Cashmere Crewneck Sweater.
The XL sweater is quite comfortable on my size 14/16 soft curvy frame. In fact, I think I could size down to L and have a trimmer fit without it being too tight or small. This matches Quince reviews I've read online and seen in the Wardrobe Oxygen Community: the sweaters are a roomy relaxed fit while the blouses and shirts run more snug.
The quality of Quince cashmere rivals department store brands like Charter Club at Macy's and Halogen at Nordstrom. It is not quite as thick as Talbots or Nadaam, not as tightly woven as Lands' End, and nowhere near as lofty as brands like Jenni Kayne. The cashmere is soft, feeling more luxe than Uniqlo but not as luxe as Italic.
Wearing the sweater, I found it to pill under the arms, which is common for cashmere, especially lower-priced options. I am one who always pushes the sleeves of her sweaters up on my forearms; I found the Quince cashmere sweater cuffs stretched with this habit and did not bounce back. As the day continued, the sleeves got so loose they didn't stay pushed up. You can see the results in the photo above.
However, this cashmere crewneck sweater has held up better than Halogen, which pills so quickly bare spots can happen after several wears. I would compare this most closely to my Charter Club and C by Bloomingdale's cashmere sweaters. Both I got on sale end of the season for around the same price Quince is year-round.
I have not yet washed my Quince cashmere sweater, but I feel confident about how it will turn out thanks to reviews from many of you who have shared that you are on your second, third, and fourth winter rocking your Quince cashmere sweaters, caring for them via dry cleaning, hand washing, and using a lingerie bag and the gentle cycle on your machine. Some have said it shrinks slightly, but most have found it to fit the same after laundering.
Review of Quince Washable Silk
I was especially curious about Quince washable silk. I own several pieces of M.M.LaFleur's washable silk pieces, including a midi-length silk skirt that looked so much like a version of Quince's, I updated my fall getaway capsule wardrobe for this year using Quince instead of M.M.LaFleur. M.M.LaFleur's washable silk has a subtle crepe finish. I have washed my pieces multiple times on the gentle cycle, let them line dry, and then steamed them back to looking like new. I wondered how Quince's 100% Washable Silk collection would compare. I tried Quince's 100% Washable Silk Skirt (here is the link for the same skirt in plus sizes).
Quince's washable silk looks more like traditional silk. It is shiny and luminous and feels silky. It is not thick; I believe a lighter color may be too transparent for my comfort, at least as a skirt or dress. But it looks really beautiful and elevated. It does wrinkle easily; in these photos, I had steamed the skirt prior to getting in the car and driving 15 minutes. That being said, I still think it looks nice and I liked that the silk didn't stretch out or bag.
The waistband of this washable silk skirt is a pull-on style with elastic. This gives the skirt a straighter cut than many bias-cut and shaped silk and like-silk slip skirts I have tried over the past two years. Depending on your shape and needs, this may be better or worse. As someone with soft curves at her belly and rear, it's better for me. I did find the XL comfortable over my belly, rear, and hips but the waist was roomy and the skirt did ride up. As an “apple” sort of shape, I am used to this happening with skirts.
Review of Quince Leather Goods
While working on this Quince clothing review, I noticed my sister had a new gorgeous black leather bag. It was the Italian Leather Convertible Crescent Shoulder Bag and it looked seriously nice. The hardware was heavy, not too shiny and not too matte. The shoulder strap was a good width to stay in place, the crossbody strap wasn't too thick but sturdy enough to hold weight and was adjustable. And the leather looked luxe. I loved that it looked stylish and on trend, but not specifically a certain designer or trend that would be passé in a year or two.
When I placed my order of gifted merch with Quince, I asked for the same bag in Taupe because I felt it would be easier to see detail in review photos, but also because my sister and I wouldn't accidentally pick up one another's bags when at an event together. But I am seriously jelly over her black bag because it's so chic and I often style looks wishing I had that exact bag.
The taupe, however, is a gorgeous cool taupe that looks luxe and pairs nicely with the gold hardware. The leather is buttery soft yet has that pebbled finish that looks expensive and also holds up better to everyday wear and tear than smooth leather of the same weight. The bag is lined in cotton twill of the same exact color. Inside there is a zipper pocket and two pouch-style pockets. The zippers are gold and match perfectly with the color of the bag and the hardware.
Both straps can be removed with the clip design. The crossbody strap has five holes for the buckle adjustment. The crossbody strap extends to 38″ including hardware. The straps have tonal stitching and sturdy hardware. The zippers have sturdy leather pulls. The gold is brushed, not antiqued. It is a pouch style bag so by design there is no true bottom of the bag and no feet to protect it when placed on a surface.
This bag impresses the hell out of me, especially comparing it to other leather bags from sustainable brands:
- Earlier this year I received a few leather bags from a popular U.S.-based sustainable leather brand and they were… fine. They were unlined, the leather was very stiff, the zippers rough, and if the bags had interior pockets, they didn't zip closed and were just of the same sturdy leather. The hardware was antiqued and every bag had very visible stitching and unfinished edges. I appreciated the ethics and sustainability of the brand and how transparent they were, but the most similar bag in their collection to this one from Quince is $118 and has no interior pockets (though it does have a longer crossbody strap).
- I also received a leather tote from another popular sustainable fashion brand that offers leather goods. Like many brands in recent years, they have a large simple tote free of hardware, the size that can be your daily purse, can hold your laptop in a neoprene case, can even be your carry-on for a flight. The bag is thick yet soft leather but the unfinished lining sheds like crazy, the interior pouch pocket is so shallow my phone falls out of it, and the exterior gets scratched incredibly quickly. I know the lack of hardware is part of the trend but there is no zipper to contain what's inside and no feet to protect the bag when placed on a surface. And this tote is almost $200.
- A friend owns a leather crossbody from the same brand that sent me the tote. It is a bit smaller than the Quince bag, and retails for around $175. The leather is stiffer, the stitching more obvious, the hardware smaller and not as sturdy/heavy. The bag is unlined, and the zippers do not match the same color as the leather. It is a nice casual day bag, but no one would look at it and consider it luxe or timeless.
Those who know bags may find that this Quince Italian Leather Convertible Crescent Shoulder Bag looks an awful lot like a crescent bag sold by a trendy smaller designer who has her bags in department stores and boutiques as well as her online store. Her bag is just under $500 and comes in a range of colors of leather, and some woven leather designs. I myself ordered one of those bags this summer and ended up returning it because I didn't feel it was designed well enough to warrant the price tag. I own other bags from this designer that I do find worth the price so it's not a bias to this brand.
This bag from Quince is awfully similar to the designer bag but honestly? I like Quince's better. I like that the interior is tonally matching and not chambray, giving a more luxe look. And unlike the designer bag, the Quince bag has interior pockets. The Quince bag has an adjustable crossbody strap while the designer bag is one length. The Quince bag also has hardware that feels more durable and the clips for the straps are the type I find hold up better over use.
I find a major factor for sustainability is pieces that are durable and transcend trends. It doesn't matter if it was handmade by well-paid women in safe and supportive factories using locally sourced leather from cows who were pampered their whole lives, natural plant dyes and deadstock linings, hardware from recycled metals, and shipped in recycled paper packaging if it's a bag that isn't functional or stylish enough for you to want to keep in your closet for the entirety of its long life.
And I can see myself using this Quince leather handbag not just this year, but next year and even ten years from now because it looks luxe, is designed in a functional manner, crafted from durable materials, and isn't too specific to a trend or season. I could easily switch out the straps with trends and needs; with the money saved with this bag, you can change it up with a gold chain strap, a fun acrylic or pearl link strap, a braided rhinestone strap, or a cotton strap in a range of prints, colors, and lengths.
What is Quince Clothing?
I love to dig into the people behind the fashion brands I feature on Wardrobe Oxygen and researching Quince clothing was quite interesting. Sid Gupta was a finance guy who went into the private equity side of things. One day he learned about a struggling candy chain in the Midwest and moved there from the West Coast to revitalize it. And that he did; within four years Gupta turned it into a $50 million business. The candy company went from 11 locations to over 90 across the country and is still thriving to this day (Gupta sold his majority stake).
On travel, Gupta and his wife were lying in a hotel bed and began thinking about how nice the sheets were versus the ones they had at home. With Gupta's supply chain experience and his wife's tech expertise, they decided to create an online company that offered luxury for less by focusing on the supply chain, and creating an innovative factory-to-customer system.
Quince was founded in 2018 and to this day, the majority of folks who work for Quince are on the tech side. To keep prices low, shipping swift, and customers happy, Quince offers simple yet luxurious fashion and home products that are timeless while constantly innovating behind the scenes.
How Does Quince Keep Their Prices So Low?
Unlike many companies that focus on constantly creating new products and skus, Quince decided to have fewer items that were timeless and free of patterns and embellishments. The goal was to create pieces that transcend trends and lasted longer in customers' closets, but also would simplify the design and manufacturing process. This combination made it so their company could offer quality equivalent to higher-end brands for half the cost.
Quince works with over 60 factories across the globe that already have the infrastructure and know-how to create the products they offer, instead of reinventing the wheel with a single factory. Again, this is a cost-saving method that helps explain Quince's too-good-to-be-true pricing.
To truly explain the price of each item, on each product page Quince breaks down the exact costs to create it. From materials to credit card fees, it's all listed so you can see how much profit Quince makes from the sale, and how much a comparable piece from another retailer would cost.
How is Quince a Sustainable Fashion Brand?
When Quince started in 2018, the company focused on offering premium cotton apparel for women. Unlike the trend of fast fashion, Quince wanted to create quality that was durable enough and timeless enough to last in a wardrobe for a long time thereby reducing waste.
On the manufacturing side, Quince has their factories create small batches to reduce deadstock. Their factories are also zero waste, utilizing every scrap of textile. As the company grew to offer more products, Quince continued to focus on reclaimed and eco-friendly dyes and raw materials. By shipping directly from the factories instead of to a warehouse, Quince reduces carbon emissions and shipping waste.
Quince offers fair wages to factory employees and checks them regularly to ensure they maintain the company's ethical and environmental values. On each product page, you can find information on the sustainability of the textile/s used and the location of the factory where it is made.
All of this is from the Quince website's Sustainability page or interviews and articles about the fashion brand and the co-founder, Sid Gupta. So I had to dig further.
The Good on You directory gives Quince a 2/5 which they consider Not Good Enough. However, it's clear this is an old review as it says Quince does not use leather (Quince has a whole selection of bags and leather goods). So while the company does now provide leather, it may have more defined sustainability methods.
In 2021, EcoCult reviewed Quince to determine if the company is truly ethical and sustainable. And the result is, to quote the review, “light green” in regard to greenwashing and actually being sustainable. While Quince prides itself on transparency, it is hard to find information as to where they get their numbers, what factories they use, how factory employes are paid and treated, how items are truly shipped, etc.
I'll be honest, the review by EcoCult was something I read way before considering a Quince clothing review. Working with many fashion brands over the years, I have seen plenty of greenwashing with brands jumping on the sustainable, clean, and ethical bandwagons to look more appealing to an audience learning to vote with their wallets. I felt that Quince was too good to be true offering sustainability, ethical practices, and rock-bottom prices for luxe fabrics.
And while I would not consider Quince to be one of the most sustainable fashion brands I have featured on Wardrobe Oxygen, I do feel that Quince makes more of an effort than a lot of popular retailers that I and many of you shop. And maybe if we continue to put Quince and other brands that have vague sustainability methods under a microscope, we may be able to force their hand to be more transparent, and more sustainable, without sacrificing quality and style.
Does Quince Offer Plus Sizes?
When I began writing my Quince clothing review, it started critical because I knew as a size 14/16 I may not be able to fit into the brand's entire women's clothing line. While the size chart appeared to fit my body, reviews from members of the Wardrobe Oxygen Community had shared that Quince clothing often ran small and narrow. And I have already experienced shopping sustainable fashion brands that looked to fit my body per the size chart, but the shape and design just didn't work with my over-40 soft curvy body.
In 2023, I feel every brand should have their size chart in their menu or site footer, and when it's not there it's a red flag for lack of size inclusivity. Quince doesn't offer their size chart until you click on an actual product and then click the text “size chart” below the product's available sizes. I share the Quince women's size chart above. I don't know, considering 67% of the women in the United States wear plus sizes, this size range just didn't seem to offer enough for this country's population.
But then very recently, Quince began offering select pieces in what they call extended sizing in 1X-3X. I do not know if Quince uses a separate plus pattern, or just grades up from their original pattern and size range. However, the Quince Extended Size collection is a separate part of the website, with separate links for the products (though the same products are in Misses sizes), and has a separate size chart, which I have shared above.
At the time of publishing this Quince clothing review, Quince offers 10 styles in their Extended Size collection and over 100 in their Misses collection. And that over 100 number excludes pajamas, maternity, and non-apparel pieces like wraps, gloves, and accessories.
I forgive Quince for having a limited extended size range… for now. I can see they may be testing styles and fit before adding on more pieces. But what is frustrating is the “fat tax” of the extended pieces costing more than the misses equivalents. Not only are they across the board $10 more (their $50 cashmere crew is $9.50 more), but the color selection and when applicable, inseam options are greatly limited in the extended size collection.
I won't be too critical at this point because Quince did finally begin offering an extended size range after years of requests. I'll revisit this Quince clothing review in a year and see if the extended size collection has expanded styles as well as colors and inseams. I also look forward to hearing from you as to the fit of the Quince Extended Size/Plus offerings.
Final Thoughts on Quince
Nothing is sustainable if you get rid of it after a season, or even after a year or two. No matter the practices to create the item, if it's unusable after regular wear, it's as bad as fast fashion. Even if it stays in nice enough condition that you can resell it, you're likely replacing it. And even if you're replacing it with resale, likely the person selling that piece is buying another thing, which is continuing the consumption problem.
Quince may be using a bit of greenwashing to stand out from its competitors. It may have a great marketing team that gets the word out and uses fancy language to make folks sleep better at night buying their products. But beyond that, Quince is truly creating what I think many of us have been looking for. Quality apparel and accessories that are stylish but not trendy that can last in our closets for a long while.
I appreciate that while brands are quietly shuttering their plus departments, Quince is entering the extended-size arena. All people deserve attainable luxury and quality made apparel with some ethics, and from a business standpoint it's smart. I look forward to hearing from those who have tried Quince plus size apparel and letting us know how it fits. And I look forward to Quince extending the selection of plus size styles, colors, and inseams.
This experience has inspired me to shop Quince in the future. I look forward to hearing your thoughts if you have shopped Quince. In the comments share your feedback, positive, negative, and constructive to help us all be better informed consumers!