With a commitment to sustainable craftsmanship and elevated style, French girl label Sézane has quickly made its mark in the world of fashion, and more important: in the world of responsible fashion.
Renowned for its sophisticated French girl aesthetics and sustainable practices, fashion label Sézane has carved out a distinct space under the leadership of founder Morgane Sézalory since its inception in 2013.
The label has provided a bird’s eye view of what a sustainable fashion industry can look like without compromising on quality, innovation, and that irreplaceable “it” factor.
Sézalory’s affinity for vintage clothing initiated her fashion journey with the online venture, Les Composantes, where she sold an assortment of handpicked secondhand clothes on eBay. Recognizing an opportunity to bring her design ideas to life, Sézalory launched Sézane, blending her admiration for vintage style and French elegance.
“Maybe what is French, […] is what always we say is ‘effortless,'” Sézalory recently told Harper’s Bazaar. But, she says that while it looks effortless “actually there is so much effort.”
What also looks deceptively effortless is the label’s commitment to sustainability — a hardline set of standards that direct Sézane’s aim of transcending the ephemeral nature of fast fashion.
Sézalory says the label’s philosophy revolves around creating timeless pieces that defy the trends so common in fast fashion. “I want every piece to be able to go through generations,” she said. The label prioritizes quality as it sees its designs as lifelong companions.
The label’s collections are released in buzzed-about limited editions that see lines snaking around the block from its retail locations (“apartments”). By ensuring craftsmanship and deliberate design for each piece, fans of the label have no qualms about waiting and paying more — an indicator that fashion does not have to be fast to be current.
“We want to show how charming and smart and beautiful a woman is — not only because she has a good pair of shoes but also because of what she likes to read, the colors she loves, and what she’s inspired by,” Sézalory told Fashionista in 2018.
But the popularity is a balancing act, too, Sézalory says. It’s not about dominating the market.
“I never wanted anything, except being an independent woman and being happy. I think this has been my only goal, to be honest,” she told Forbes last year. “The way I work is just like the very good baker, who wants to make the best bread, who loves his customers, who wants to make a very pretty shop, a place for his people to be, and who wants to host the people in the best way, with a smile. And sometimes the kind of baker that will gift you, with the leftover crust.
“And this is really the way I do things. There is so much common sense, good sense, quality, love, and respect for the consideration. And I’m totally obsessed about making things a better way than yesterday, every day. So the fidelity is there, and that’s the only secret. Because it’s like that, with no true intention of growing and growing, then it grows on its own. It just grows.”
Several initiatives underpin Sézane’s dedication to sustainability, namely its use of eco-friendly materials. Sézane employs environmentally responsible and ethically sourced materials. As of 2021, 69 percent of the materials used by the label are eco-friendly, with ambitions to increase this to 80 percent.
Sézane opts for fabrics including certified organic cotton, recycled polyester, and viscose. The brand maintains high standards by closely working with suppliers to ensure the materials align with its quality and sustainability objectives. This commitment extends to ethical manufacturing, mandating suppliers to adhere to a strict code of conduct, encompassing fair wages, safe working conditions, and environmental accountability.
The label is also committed to sharing information about its production processes, supply chains, and working conditions in its factories, enabling customers to make informed choices.
Furthermore, Sézane aims to keep refining its processes and pushing the boundaries of what is possible in sustainable fashion. This involves continuous research into innovative materials and techniques that can further reduce the environmental footprint of their products.
The label also invests in several social projects, aiming to make a positive impact on the communities they work within. This includes supporting educational programs and women empowerment initiatives, further cementing their commitment to not just environmental but also social sustainability.
Sézalory launched Demain (tomorrow), a philanthropic offshoot of the label, working to support equal opportunities for children, teens, and adults. Since its launch in 2017, Sézalory says it has raised more than €4 million for its three partner charities: La Voix de l’Enfant, Sport dans la Ville, and Démos.
Pushing the industry ahead
Sézane’s success story also offers a wider industry opportunity as it highlights the potential for fashion labels to thrive while maintaining ethical and sustainable practices. As the demand for sustainable fashion continues to grow, Sézane’s approach provides a valuable blueprint for other brands looking to integrate sustainability into their business models.
That shift is underway with luxury labels adopting more sustainable practices as consumers opt for secondhand instead of fast fashion. New labels, like Angelina Jolie’s Atelier Jolie, are launching with a sustainability ethos baked in.
Last month, Sézane partnered with Farm Rio on a summer collection. “I felt an immediate connection when I met [Farm Rio co-founder] Katia Barros,” Sézalory said in a statement. “We both share an ardent passion for creative pieces in surprising color palettes that can be worn forever. I couldn’t think of a better way to celebrate the story of Sézane than with Farm Rio — a brand which places adventure, freedom, and people at the heart of everything.”
The 40-piece collection of rompers, dresses, and separates fuses the brands’ Parisian and Brazilian aesthetics — think effortless silhouettes and tropic prints.
“What I love about life is to put a little bit of magic in everything, Sézalory told Forbes. Because I can see it in everything. I think that’s my gift,” she says. “That’s the way I connect the more elevated beauty and art with the every day, it’s this ability to see the magic in everything.”
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