I recently purchased my first piece from the Parisian cult-status brand Sezane, and was quite impressed. I thought I’d share a review of Sezane, based on my first experience, in case you have also been eyeing off their chic designs but can’t attend one of their physical ateliers. From a slow fashion and budget perspective I generally don’t do clothing “hauls” and prefer to purchase one or two high quality, items at a time so this review is just based on one purchase. However, as they saying goes, first impressions count and can speak volumes about a brand – so I hope this will be a helpful resource.
Where I heard about Sezane
I stumbled across Sezane a few years ago while down a Instagram rabbit hole (does this happen to you too?). After seeing several sustainable influencers mention the brand, I of course had to investigate. While I loved Sezane’s designs, I’m quite risk adverse about ordering online from international brands I haven’t tried before as I’ve had some bad experiences in the past in terms of fit and quality. At that stage, Sezane didn’t offer free return postage to Australia and the prospect of paying international postage to return an item if it didn’t fit or suit wasn’t appealing. For that reason, I filed Sezane away as a brand to try if I was ever in Paris. However, a few months ago I fell head over heels for Sezane’s Joanie bodysuit and seeing that Sezane now shipped and offered free returns to Australia sealed the deal.
Quality and Design
I may have justified the purchase of the gorgeous Joanie bodysuit in black by the fact that it was “versatile” – but who am I really fooling? It was love at first sight with that low back and high boat neckline. I love that it’s a statement piece with a classic design that I can dress up or down. Even though it has a low back the shoulders don’t slip off (something I find can happen with designs of this nature). The fabric composition is merino wool and cotton, making it lightweight but still warm and very soft – perfect for those transitional months of spring and autumn. According to Sezane’s website this garment was Oeko-tex certified, 100% natural, from an audited factory and had recycled packaging. If black isn’t your colour, this design also comes in saffron and vintage blue.
While there’s a lot to love about the Joanie bodysuit there are two things you may want to keep in mind. First, as much as I love the statement back, it does made wearing a bra problematic (here are some good bra options for low back garments). Second, while I was impressed with the quality of the piece the wool composition does make it a bit more delicate and it’s probably a garment that I’ll hand wash. These weren’t deal breakers for me, but they may be for you.
Although this piece was true to size for me, it’s difficult to weigh in on sizing across Sezane as a whole. I’ve only purchased one item and so couldn’t tell you if sizing is representative across their collection. I did find it helpful that under each item Sezane has a sizing notation (for example, “choose your usual size” or “if you are between sizes choose the size down otherwise choose your normal size”). I purchased the Joanie bodysuit in a size XS which was a good fit for me. For reference, I generally consider myself a size 6. However, recently Australian brands have been introducing a AU size 4 which seems to be replacing what was previously the size 6 (very confusing) and more frequently I’m finding myself purchasing a AU size 4. The Joanie bodysuit does have an adjustable crotch strap which is very useful to cater to different body lengths and to avoid the dreaded wedgie. The Joanie bodysuit came in a XS to an XXL with most of their clothes ranging from a size 2 to 14. However, some knitwear ranges from XXS to XXXL.
I had no problems with the ordering process and the parcel arrived in 7 days – very quickly for an international item in the middle of Sydney lock down. I absolutely loved the recycled cardboard packaging with a beautiful Parisian motif inside. It also came with two floral frilly little bags. I’m not sure whether this bags were a one off, or whether these come with each item. While they were a lovely detail and one that I put good use as a make up bag (the other I’m giving to a friend), from a minimalist and sustainability standpoint, I fear that sometimes samples and unordered extras can contribute to waste if not used. That said, small bags like this can also be a good way to use up excess material scraps in the design process. I’m not sure if that’s the case here, but if it were, it’s a great way of re-purposing fabric off cuts which might otherwise go to waste. The garment arrived lightly scented. I’m not a big perfume wearer and, while I have a few favourite fragrances, don’t like heavy scents. However, this scent wasn’t off putting or overpowering to me.
Ease of return is a significant consideration for me when ordering from brands online. Occasionally I’ll throw caution to the wind, but generally I like to know that I can return an item, preferably for free. According to the US version of Sezane’s website it states that they offer free returns from US, Canada and Australia. As at the date of this review the French version of Sezane’s website states that it offers free returns from “Metropolitan France, Monaco, Belgium, Germany, UK, Italy, Spain, Netherlands, Portugal, Finland, Sweden, Ireland, Slovakia, Austria, Denmark, Luxembourg, Latvia, Lithuania, Hungary, Estonia, Poland, Czech Republic, Malta and Greece”. However, as I kept this item, I can’t comment on the process.
The Joanie bodysuit set me back $120 AUD. Admittedly, this was quite expensive for a bodysuit and I probably wouldn’t have paid that for just a basic piece. However, for me the low back made it a statement piece that I was willing to splurge on.
Shop the Edit
Website and navigation
I love the beautiful imagery on Sezane’s website. While I feel the layout and navigation could be slightly more streamlined I never have too much trouble finding what I’m looking for.
Sezane’s recent report, published on their website, also gives some great insight into their sustainability and ethical goals and initiatives. According to this report, three quarters of the materials they use in production are eco friendly comprising “organic cotton, linen, Tencel, FSC certified viscose, Ecovero, wool certified by the RWS [Responsible Wool Standard] wool, mohair from farms audited by Mohair South Africa, Oeko-Tex Standard 100 certified materials, recycled materials, vegetable-tanned leather”. 83% of the cotton used in production is organic, almost three quarters (73%) of the polyester used in their designs is recycled, they use vegetable tanned leather for 61% of their leather goods as opposed to chrome tanning (which uses harmful chemicals and toxic waste which can get into water streams) and “68% of viscose comes from sustainably managed forests”.
While, as at April 2020, Good On You (an ethical brand rating system I often use as an initial guide for sustainable brands) rated Sezane as “not good enough”. However, some of the issues cited as reasons for this low rating appear to have been addressed in Sezane’s most recent report, for example:
- Good On You stated that “there is no evidence it has set a greenhouse gas emissions reduction target”. However, Sezane’s report state that their first carbon assessments occurred in 2019. Between 2019 and 2020 they achieved a 22% reduction in their carbon footprint and are aiming to reduce this another 10% by the end of this year through transport optimisation, packaging reduction, a new recycling program for their clothes, green energy initiatives and an environmental audit program.
- Good On You also stated that “there is no evidence it has taken meaningful action to reduce or eliminate hazardous chemicals”. This wasn’t specifically dealt with in the report. However, Sezane has said that from 2019 they doubled the percentage of vegetable based tanned leather (now 61%) which reduces their use of chrome and metal tanning processes. Furthermore, they use a high percentage of organic cotton in their designs which are made without pesticides and some of their pieces are Oeko-Tex standard 100 certified which ensures the fabric are tested for harmful substances “beyond what is permitted under European regulatory requirements”. For me, this indicates that they are taking some steps toward reducing their use of toxic chemicals and waste.
- Another reason cited by Good On You was Sezane’s lack of recycling program. However, as mentioned above, Sezane has recently implemented such a program and has recycled 13,000 items since its implementation.
- Although Sezane does not appear to have made their Code of Conduct publicly available (another reason that Good On You marked it down), and this would be a great step from a transparency point of view, the report mentioned that they did have such a Code of Conduct and their factories were independently audited and seemed to perform well (47% achieved a score of excellent, 43% very good and 9% were compliant. No ateliers met the “warning” criteria).
Given that Sezane appears to have addressed some of issues raised in Good On You’s critique, it will be interesting to see Good On You rates this brand in future. However, my personal opinion as a consumer, is that Sezane is taking genuine and active steps towards environmental and social improvement and they are a brand I am happy to support. Sustainability is a sliding scale that involves each of us making a value based judgment on how we want to vote with our dollars, but on my part, I applaud the Sezane’s current and future sustainability initiatives and feel that compared to they majority of brands on the market they are a wonderful sustainable option. I also know that, while I care about issues of sustainability deeply, I am far from perfect and so it’s important to give brands a bit of leeway too.
Would I purchase from Sezane again?
Yes. I was happy with my first experience having ordered from Sezane. I have my eye on a few of their lace tops. I’m also looking to invest in a trench coat and their well known Sezane Trench is a contender on my wish list right now.
- I love Sezane’s beautiful, classic designs and the imagery of their website.
- I like how they use a high percentage of eco friendly materials although it would be great to see a Code of Conduct on their website.
- They seem to have some great sustainable and ethical initiatives and have some concrete steps in place to improve further.
- The delivery process was smooth – although I can’t comment on the returns process.
- Cost is mid-range.
Do you love Sezane’s designs? I’d love to know if you’ve purchased from this brand before and, if so, how your experience was?
Photos: Sara Eshu