It all started with a New Year’s dare. In December 2015, Candice Huffine and her husband, Matt, were mapping out plans for the upcoming year. Huffine, a successful fashion model who has appeared in Vogue, Glamour and W Magazine among others, was focused on her professional goals. While she was considering bookings for her 2016 wish list, Matt suggested his wife train for a half marathon.

“My first response was: Why on earth would I do that?” Huffine recalls.

Although she’d always been active, Huffine, 33, never had a interest in starting lines. Growing up, she thought of running as a punishment. In fact, when Huffine became captain of her high school’s cheer team, her first executive order was to eliminate the run-portion of practice.

Still, Matt nudged: “I dare you.”

Something about the challenge clicked and Huffine decided to go from 0 miles to 13.1 at the New York City Half Marathon that March. Starting out was hard, but Huffine was shocked by the results. “Running made me a better person from the inside out,” she says. “Before I was going through the motions and letting things I can’t control get in the way of things I can…it just brought everything into focus.” One half marathon lead to a few more that year—then two full marathons in 2017.

Gear Gap

But it wasn’t all endorphins and marathon medals … During her running journey, Huffine noticed a problem with activewear offerings: “I’m a size 12, so I kind of teeter between the last size available in most mainstream brands and the first in a plus brand. Sometimes I feel a bit in no man’s land.”

When it came to running apparel, it was challenging find items that checked all the boxes of performance, comfort, look, and fit. “So many times I’ve gone home early from a run because the pants were falling or, my socks started slipping, or the bra wasn’t supporting me,” she says. 

Running had given Huffine a level of confidence and a sense of peace that she wanted to share with the world, especially with other women. At the same time, she realized that no amount of fitness-inspiration could overcome the barrier to entry for a woman who didn’t have access to comfortable clothes that fit well.

When the opportunity arose in the start of 2017 to launch her own activewear apparel line, Huffine charged at the chance. In November of last year, DAY/WON launched. The brand, which stands for the idea that anything you do that makes you feel like your best self is a “day won,” became the first truly size inclusive activewear apparel line in history. Every single piece is available in sizes 0 to 32.

The Slow-Moving “Fast” Space

More than a clothing brand, Huffine believes DAY/WON has the potential to become a full-on movement. Head to any marathon finish line and you’ll see runners of every shape crushing their goals. However, the size range for most running brands is extremely narrow. The largest women’s size offered by popular niche companies like Tracksmith and Oiselle is 10 and 12 respectively, while bigger corporations like Nike and ASICS go to XXL and, for some items, to size 3X.

These statistics become more shocking when you consider that the average American woman is a size 14. A lack of options for women of all sizes creates a significant barrier to entry for anyone who wants to run–and a serious issue for the legions of women who already do. The most commonly-sized female consumer must toggle between shopping in mainstream and “plus-size” sections and stores. This divide forces women to switch back and forth between self-describing labels, one “normal” and one “not.”

Candice ran the 2017 Boston Marathon with the Hyland’s Homeopathic team. Photo: Courtesy of Candice Huffine

So why have so many companies left the average woman in the lurch? The answer is part fact and part fiction. For many brands, especially startups, a wide size range can seem impossible because of the inventory costs attached. Your average company must pay for inventory up front long before the revenue comes in, creating cash flow issues. [It should be noted, however, that most brands offer higher sizes for their men’s line.] The other piece of this puzzle is that a silly-but-sinister myth still permeates our culture: Only certain sized women want to move their bodies.

Win the Day

When it comes to DAY/WON, Huffine is clear: this is not a straight size brand, nor is it plus-size brand. It’s an all-size brand–for all athletes, all women, all bodies. She is a strong believer in breaking down the barriers of labeling, especially “plus-size.” She explains, “It’s frankly ludicrous, that this woman is being made to feel that she’s different. We know that she’s not.”

Smartly, DAY/WON has been able to surmount the inventory issue by partnering with an on-demand manufacturer, Zeil. With a focus on e-commerce, the clothes are only created at the point of sale. This reduces overhead, allows for a hyper-inclusive size range, and has the benefit of being kinder to the environment (no inventory goes to waste).

DAY/WON currently sells a mix of leggings and tanks, as well as a post-workout wrap and a few bandanas. The line, designed entirely by Huffine is East Coast-cool-girl-meets-athleisure. The full line is in black and white with bold graphic details. “I wanted something that would look good on the street, but also could perform,” Huffine says. To ensure her products were on point before the line launched, the model wore prototypes for DAY/WON in both the Boston Marathon, which she ran with Hyland’s Homeopathic, and New York City Marathon, which she ran with the NYRR Team for Kids. “When they say ‘tried and tested,’ I was that person,” she laughs.

The compression leggings Huffine raced in for 26.2 miles through the streets of New York also happen to be the brand’s runaway bestsellers. A point of validation, Huffine reports that the legging’s most-ordered sizes are 16 and 18. “I always knew that this woman is active, wants great stuff and is there to shop,” Huffine says. “I knew she was out there because I’ve seen her running all these races with me! It’s been the best non-surprise surprise.”

Next Steps

With market validation in her rearview, Huffine plans to continue to expand. She says, “The reaction that women have had to this brand just makes me want to go bigger.” In 2018, the brand will launch more items, while focusing on community growth. “I want DAY/WON to be an immersive brand where any women can be inspired,” she says. “Everyone should have a full appreciation of themselves right where they are now and to be their best and healthiest selves. It’s not a size; it’s a feeling.”

Candice and her husband, Matt, celebrate after finishing the 2017 New York City Marathon. Photo: Courtesy of Candice Huffine