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Case Study: Sézane

Case Study: Sézane
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No one can question the grip that French style has on global audiences.  It's a look that is often copied, but never executed as perfectly as homegrown fashion brands like Maje, Zadig and Voltaire, Sessùn and Rouje do. All of these brands tap into some version of French style, which can range from feminine to edgy insouciance.

One such brand that has garnered increasing interest and investment in recent years is Sézane.  Inspired by founder Morgane Sézalory's love of vintage, she started out with vintage brands that she would upgrade. As she continued, she started mixing these with her own original designs, which led to the brand's formal founding in 2013. Fast forward to today, and this kind of crossover look is very much still in the brand's core DNA.

This something special has not only caught the eye of discerning shoppers, it also grabbed the attention of investors.  In 2018, General Atlantic invested in the business and in 2022, Téthys, the Bettencourt-Meyers family office (yep, the folks behind L'Oreal), also invested.

In the same Business of Fashion story cited above, a source mentioned that 2022 sales at the brand were projected to reach €250 million. Much of that is happening through its own site, although the brand has been slowly but surely adding more physical stores to its roster, most recently at the Brentwood Country Mart in Santa Monica, California. As the brand embarks on its next chapter of growth, benchmarking its performance is important to understand the larger market, not to mention the opportunities and challenges, that they may face.

Pricing compared to other French contemporary brands

To get a sense of the competive landscape, we can do a quick price index analysis to understand how Sézane compares to other brands in the French market.

What we can see here is that Sézane really comes in at an approachable price point, significantly below all the key retailers in this sample size, which includes Maje, ba&sh, The Kooples and Zadig & Voltaire.  The highest average prices for dresses belong to Zadig & Voltaire (who also happens to have the fewest number of dresses), while the closest in price is ba&sh.  Our price index shows that all these brands are priced at a minimum of 75% more than Sézane is priced.  While accessibility is definitely a competitive advantage for Sézane, it's something the brand will need to consistently assess in order to maintain a competitive edge.

Shifting assortments

In any fashion brand's growth strategy, the most important thing is about knowing where to expand – and where to focus. Whether that's new markets, new categories, or new channels, the choices are many, while the resources to do so may not be so unlimited.  Let's take a look at where Sézane has been adding new products.

It's quite interesting to see that in Q2 of 2023, Sézane has actually trimmed the overall number of women's clothing styles. Digging into the details, we see, however, that they have added more accessories and bags.  This makes sense that in tougher economic times, shoppers might be more focused on value, whether that's shopping for affordable add-on items like jewelry, or prioritizing spending on a bag that can have a lower cost-per-wear than certain apparel items.

A nouveau lifestyle brand

But the company isn't just looking at womenswear for the future.  In 2017, they launched the men's side of the business called Octobre Editions, which has been steadily growing in scope.  It's more edited in its offerings, but naturally the company sees opportunity in dressing both halves of stylish couples.  

Images courtesy of Sézane

Yet, the category expansion doesn't end there.  The company has recently launched a full homeware line called Les Composantes.  From cushions to lamps, and even a few vintage offerings in there, the French chic vibes are alive and well on the home front.

Images courtesy of Farm Rio

Other paths to growth include looking to brand partnerships.  One of its most recent included teaming up with Brazilian label Farm Rio on a collection of pieces that married the two aethetics: French chic and tropical fun.  

When it comes to Sézane's future, the possibilities certainly seem endless, and the choices the team is making on which products and categories to explore have all the makings of a best-in-class lifestyle brand.

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