Sézane Finds Success by Making Less

For Ms. Sézalory, 32, the idea of releasing items in drops came by necessity and convenience, rather than by clever marketing. Twelve years ago, she began selling vintage clothing and accessories on eBay. She had an eye for what would sell and knew how to present items in an aspirational way that was uncommon among many eBay vendors. Before long, she was earning enough money to make a full-time gig of it.


Sézane is meant to mirror a Parisian apartment.

Charissa Fay

In 2008, she introduced her first online shop, Les Composantes, which sold vintage and reworked vintage pieces. To save herself multiple trips to the post office, she would release all of the new goods on one day each month in what she called “rendezvous,” informing customers via newsletter. Sometimes the new batch would sell out within hours, she said.

Eventually Ms. Sézalory decided she was ready to build a full-fledged fashion label. Despite having no formal training, she began designing clothing and accessories heavily influenced by Paris street style and the vintage items she loved, calling her new label Sézane (a contraction of her first and last names). Though her creations were no longer one-offs, and she had help with those trips to the post office, she kept the monthly rendezvous, which, she said, felt “special.”


Sézane, on Elizabeth Street.

Charissa Fay

Each capsule is introduced with an extensive photo campaign with distinctive casting and a new setting. “The first thing I discovered when I was on eBay was the power of a nice picture,” Ms. Sézalory said. “Back then, women were not used to buying clothes online, so you had to show them through a picture how the fabric is, how to wear it. I wanted the girl to feel like she can touch the clothes, and see how she could mix it with something. I’m still very obsessed with this.”

It’s the reason, she said, that Sézane often photographs its clothes in far-flung locales and never in a studio. “When the customer discovers the collection, she also discovers a new feeling, a country,” Ms. Sézalory said. “And since we’ve been there, too, we can share with her the good addresses of where to eat, what to do.”

Like the store in Paris, the NoLIta outpost, at 254 Elizabeth Street, is named L’Appartement and is styled after the apartment of a woman you want to hang out with for a little while, maybe learn something from. “Fashion is not only fashion,” Ms. Sézalory said. “It’s also about inspiration.”

In a concession to customer demand, Sézane has started to offer seasonal collections that stick around longer, and this month it introduced La Liste, its first permanent collection. It offers “iconic Parisian” staples that Ms. Sézalory described as “the main pieces every woman should have in her closet, but not boring.”

But the monthly rendezvous will remain.

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