In Morgane Sézalory, French fashion has found an anti-nonchalant ambassador. She is neither inflexible nor superior; instead, warm, welcoming and emotional about her journey from curious teenage upstart to global businesswoman at the heart of Paris’ first and highly successful e-commerce platform: Sézane.
Perhaps Sézalory’s unconventional journey to become the unwitting purveyor of some of France’s best knitwear and affordable tailoring has made her immune to some of the industry’s more stereotypical tropes. At 18 and looking for an independent way to pay her rent (“I just didn’t want to work for someone who didn’t share my values”), Sézalory did what many young entrepreneurs do today and started an eBay side hustle.
Spoiler alert: she nailed it, transferring her editing nous to Les Composantes, a scheduled “meets-up” website selling custom vintage pieces that often sold out within minutes. With no formal design training, but an appreciation for aesthetics and a desire to create, Sézalory found the internet to simply be a new way to express herself. A community of like-minded people took note and Sézane, a “brand of sorts” incorporating Morgane’s own designs, was born in 2013.
“I was the only option for people looking for creativity and soul online,” she reflects on the brand’s 10th anniversary. “The success of the company has been a consequence of the heart we [her now 200-strong team] put into it … I like to work in a very meaningful way.” Morgane’s job is to protect herself as the kind of CEO who skips international travel to hang out and ruminate on drugs (Sézalory also takes every Wednesday off for to spend with her daughters—something she says makes her a better mother and a better entrepreneur).happiness at the core of her company.
All of which is to say, Sézane, despite its excellence in delivering Breton (loved by the US) and sweet-yet-sexy cardigans (catnip to the Brits), still doesn’t sound very French. “What is French?” quips Morgane when pressed to find a place within the realms of that clichéd but oh-so-coveted realm of French-girl styling. “I think what defines us is the desire to make the world beautiful,” she shares. “I try not to lock the style to the brand, so everyone can come and pick something and make it their own.”
Sézane’s “everyday clothes with small details”, such as retro buttons and lace, certainly make this easy. The knitwear in particular manages to evoke an atmosphere of vintage while feeling just right for the moment. “These are pieces you won’t find anywhere else,” Morgane says of her formula for creating classics with an artistic twist: all rich colors and delicate accents that don’t cost the earth.
The fact that many of the special anti-trend pieces are limited edition also helps to woo high-profile customers, such as Bella Hadid, Sienna Miller and Selena Gomez, but Morgane is more concerned with catering to the first beauty-seeking community in the usual. “Famous or not, it’s cool to see that not just one type of woman appreciates the quality and feels good in Sézane,” says the accidental powerhouse for whom money and celebrity endorsements have never been motivating factors.
While 2023 promises a handful of exciting activations, including two collaborations and a major store takeover, Sézalory is also going back to the beginning of her story: Les Composantes. “It’s kind of a rebirth that I’ve been working on for four years,” she teases. The words “bowl fight” may not translate, but you can expect even the most quintessentially French among her followers to sharpen their elbows for this drop. It turns out that being fashionable is cool after all.