Sézane founder Morgane Sézalory started out selling vintage clothes on eBay, presenting picks by rendezvous each month on her former site Les Composantes, where they were snapped up in minutes.
Encouraged by her followers, she started developing her own designs based on vintage-inspired “attractive and affordable items created for real-life, plausible fashion alternatives.” In 2013, the thirtysomething designer together with business partner Corentin Petit launched Sézane, leveraging her loyal community — to date pushing 1 million followers on Instagram. Sézalory has described Sézane, whose moniker is based on a contraction of parts of her surname and first name, as “the first 100 percent digital French fashion label.” To get an idea of the brand’s cult appeal, Sézane shifted 7,500 pairs of jeans on the launch day of its denim line in January 2017, and racked up a 30,000-strong waiting list for its recently restocked Barry and Gaspard cardigans.
New York private equity firm General Atlantic recently acquired a 45 percent stake in the hot French contemporary brand, according to sources familiar with the transaction. General Atlantic picked up its stake from Summit Partners as well as other investors. Gabriel Caillaux and Melis Kahya of General Atlantic both joined the brand’s board.
Sézane’s online business is said to be growing at a rate of roughly 75 percent and expanding profitably, though the company does not share figures.
There is also a controlled physical dimension. First came the Paris store, L’Appartement, in 2015, inspired by Sézalory’s home. Apartment-style boutiques have since been opened in New York and London, with other stores planned for New York’s Upper West Side and San Francisco. The brand has operated a permanent corner in Le Bon Marché Rive Gauche since September 2017.
Sézalory also likes to give back. In early 2018, she launched her Demain (“tomorrow” in French) concept, where a new item is released each month, with profits going to a range of children’s charities. On the 21st of each month, 10 percent of all sales goes to the charity. Customers can also return used Sézane items in its Boutique Solidaire store adjoining L’Appartement in exchange for a 10 percent reduction on purchases, with all profits going to charity.
A men’s line, Octobre Éditions, was launched in 2016.