With a new pop-up in London and a steady stream of passionate fans, French brand Sézane is making waves in the market. Drapers spoke to founder Morgane Sézalory to find out more.
Morgane sézalory headshot crédit @alphasmoot
For many shoppers, Parisian chic is the ultimate style aspiration – and with its classic, quality designs, urban elegance and attainable sense of exclusivity, French brand Sézane has found a formula with which consumers are flocking to engage.
Founder Morgane Sézalory has always been passionate about vintage clothes. She started selling them on Ebay in 2005 before setting up her own website, Les Composantes, in 2008. Sézane was born in 2013, when Sézalory decided the time was right to create her own designs.
When it launched, Sézane was France’s first online-only fashion brand. Since then it has grown hugely, shipping across Europe and the US. It now has two stores in Paris and is stocked in iconic department store Le Bon Marché. It also has one store in New York and launched a chic pop-up in London in early November.
Sézalory describes the brand as crafting “timeless pieces, which are simple yet beautiful – all at an accessible price point”.
“We try to create products you want to keep forever and not just for one season,” she says. “We ensure our product is made for every woman, style and age.”
The brand provides a cosy, feminine interpretation of Parisian style – sweet florals and fuzzy jumpers, midi-skirts and boho dresses. Classic cuts dominate, but come in unusual prints. Retail prices range from £65 for a silk camisole to £810 for a shearling coat, although most of the collection is less than £300..
Sézane creates hype with its limited product runs and weekly “rendezvous” product drops. A limited run of new items launches online once a week, a tactic that has turned the brand into a cult sensation. Items sell out quickly online and the Parisian stores attract queues around the block. A denim collaboration with French model Camille Rowe released earlier this year sold out of all 7,500 pairs of one style in a day.
“I started to do [the rendezvous format] with my first company, Les Composantes. It was entirely random – I was forced to limit my uploads to 100 images, so I decided to sell only 100 products each month,” explains Sézalory. “From then on I have kept the ‘rendezvous’ organisation. I love the idea of creating a story around the collection and launching it on a unique date to our strong community of followers.”
The buzz around Sézane is equally heightened by the limited editions of each item. Similar to brands such as Supreme, customers have responded to the exclusivity this provides. Sézalory, however, insists this tactic also allows the brand to maintain quality and brand image.
“When building the collection, a lot of thought goes into the quantities of each piece. We want to improve the production to make our customers happy and let them find their favourite pieces. But, at the same time, we want to keep our product unique, which is why we are hesitant to increase our stock levels.”
In addition to these cult styles, Sézane now sells a selection of products available at all times in multiple colours and sizes – dubbed La Liste – which Sézalory describes as helping to “avoid frustration over items being sold out”.
Following the success of its online business, the brand opened its first physical store in Paris two years ago. “At first, we just wanted to have a showroom for customers [so we could invite] them into Sézane to discover the brand, try the products, touch the materials but still buy online,” says Sézalory. “It was a continuation of the website but, after a few months, we decided to try sell the products directly from the store.”
The stores are not classic retail spaces, however, and each space closely weaves the brand’s identity into a more experiential model of shopping. The original store, L’Appartement, houses a coffee shop and movie theatre while the brand’s second Parisian store, La Librairie, is, appropriately, housed in a library. When the brand opened its store in New York’s Nolita in September this year, it continued this theme, with a cosy cafe and regular in-store events, including floristry classes and beauty workshops.
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“Sézane is much more than just a fashion brand,” explains Sézalory. “I also love the lifestyle elements: books, coffee, cinema – everything is an inspiration to me. I want our customers to feel at home in the store, and this is a key element of them doing so.”
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While the London store is a temporary pop-up, open until 23 December, Sézalory is keen to ensure this concept is encapsulated in the space: “It is really important for us to have the Sézane ethos on everything we create: our website, our socials, our stores and pop-ups too.”
The site initially began shipping to the UK in 2015. “What is magic about the internet is you can be international quickly; it is amazing,” says Selazory. The new pop-up aims to connect and grow the UK customer base.
“At Sézane, the care of our customer is at the heart of everything, so it was important to think of our UK customers. We wanted to meet them, and let them discover and experience the brand first hand,” she adds, noting that she hopes to open a permanent London store in the future.
“This pop-up is a curated shop of all the best Sézane pieces. In future, we would love to take over a bigger space with a new experience for our customers,” she says. “The idea is not to open lots of stores everywhere – but I like the idea of having a Sézane ’Appartement’ in some key cities.”
As it heads towards its fifth anniversary next year, Sézane shows no sign of slowing momentum – it is gearing up to launch a new, more-luxury line on the site next spring, while also preparing to open several new pop-up stores in the US during 2018. Its limited runs and experiential approach offer a lesson on how a mix of etail and bricks-and-mortar can entice customers in tough times for fashion.