A rendez-vous. While perhaps most Americans conjure up some clandestine meeting in an exotic location when they hear the phrase, to Morgane Sézalory, and the half of a million individuals that follow her label Sézane on Instagram, "rendez-vous" on Wednesdays means clearing your schedule, setting an alarm, and logging onto Sézane.com, at just the right moment hopefully snagging a piece from the coveted monthly drop of vintage inspired French girl must-haves. Though they very proudly refer to themselves as the first French online clothing destination, the label recently opened three stores—and whenever a monthly drop is about to be release girls queue up outside the Paris locations, eager to get their hands on the new goods. It's a hysteria that resembles the lines outside cult skatewear label Supreme before a drop. Sézalory’s eyes grow wide at the thought of the long lines outside her stores. “It’s still so crazy,” she said, shaking her head.
Sézane was technically born in 2013, though it truly grew out of a previous project that was very happy accident. When Sézalory was in her late teens, her older sister moved to London, and left Sézalory with all of the clothes, bags, and shoes that she didn’t feel like packing up. While growing up, in an attempt to find unique pieces to wear, Sézalory often hunted for vintage in and around the city of Paris. She also would scroll through eBay in an attempt to find needle-in-the-haystack pieces. “I was collecting things on eBay just for myself. No one in France was really using eBay,” she said. On a whim, “I took all of my sister’s things, and I actually to put them on eBay, not thinking that it would be the beginning of my professional life.”
Though her plan was to wrap up school ahead of schedule, take her exams, and jump right into the political science field, an art class that she has signed up for as a credit-fulfilling elective led her to explore her more creative side. She discovered she had a knack for creating a beautiful image, and she put that to good use on eBay. “It was 13 years ago,” she explained. “No one was taking nice photos, and styling the images of what they were selling on the internet. I thought, "Ok, how can I make this beautiful? Maybe I put a lot of light,' and I just discovered it was very natural for me to make a beautiful picture.”
After selling her sister's clothes, Sézalory began sourcing and selling vintage pieces through eBay . Before she knew it, she had Parisian fashion designers purchasing her wares as inspiration for the collections they were working on for big fashion houses. “But no one believed that you could use the Internet for a real career!” she added. “It was the beginning of a new economy. Even I didn’t believe it, and those around me, like my parents, didn’t believe it. They were very worried, even though I was taking charge of my life, had my own flat.”
In the meantime, however, Sézalory realized, that perhaps eBay’s site did not truly lend itself to the upscale pieces—vintage Hermès, Chanel, Courrèges, etc.—that she offered to her customers. She decided to launch her own site, Les Composantes, because she was tired of going to the post office every day, “I decided to do one rendez-vous, each month, at Tuesday at 9 p.m. So I said, 'Maybe if I do only one selection of 100 unique vintage pieces per month, and I give a rendez-vous to all of my followers each month via our newsletter, I’ll have to go to the post office less often.'" It just so happened that at the first rendez-vous everything sold out in 2 minutes.
Fast forward to 2013, and Sézalory has shifted away from vintage pieces, solely because her customers were frustrated that they often couldn’t buy their favorite one-offs fast enough. She instead used everything she learned about fabrics and the history of fashion from collecting vintage in order to launch her own label, Sézane—the name is a contraction of her first and last names—which offers vintage inspired blouses, great blazers and jackets, and accessories. One thing hasn’t changed all that much, however, is her selling model. “Now, there are four big collections each year and smaller capsules," she explained. "The items in the capsule collections are the pieces you don’t want to see on everyone.” At a recent online drop earlier this year, jeans shot on Camille Rowe sold out of 7,500 pairs in just one day.
Sézalory’s newsletter following has turned into an Instagram following, and a following in real life as well —customers come to Sézane’s Paris stores, aptly called L’Appartement and La Librarie, to hang out and stay awhile. The first location houses a cinema and the latter is a cafe, with complimentary croissant and coffee. Last month, Sézane opened up shop in New York City’s Nolita, where young girls happily carted out bags full of floral dresses, lace blouses, and even a fluffy faux fur. There will be a cafe in there, too, with exceptional, friendly service. “I want everyone to feel unique,” Sézalory said. And if you can manage to get your hands on a coveted jacket from the next drop, you will be.
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