Entretien avec Charlotte Cadé, fondatrice de Selency

Interview with Charlotte Cadé, founder of Selency

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Think of all these sites which, for several years, have spread across the web offering carefully selected second-hand clothing to everyone from all over the world. Now think of the same thing, but for furniture. In the field, there is an undisputed leader in France, recognized for the quality of its business: Selency. Behind this great success launched in 2014 are Charlotte Cadé and Maxime Brousse. Two Parisians in their thirties from Bordeaux who have the same delicate passion for vintage things as an old jeaneur from the Puces. The first even published a book entitled “There is no age for vintage”. Obviously he needed to be talked to.

What do you think is the ideal furniture for storing your clothes properly?

What always works are small-sized cabinets, as opposed to massive Norman cabinets which don't fit into all spaces. They are called Parisian wardrobes. They have a dressing room part and a shelf part. I'm also obviously thinking of the good old chests of drawers that have three drawers. This is a must for storing anything that doesn't need hanging, and it usually adds up to quite a bit. At Selency, we sell old pieces, and their formats are within the standards. There's never anything too surprising. To find something, let's say crazy, you have to go hunting for contemporary items.

Do you think there is a parallel between buying second-hand furniture and vintage clothing?

It's totally the same process. Whether it's clothing or furniture, we first look for vintage for style reasons. But it is also a matter of quality and robustness. Old-fashioned manufacturing is always more artisanal, based on real know-how, with more resistant materials, fabrics, and more careful finishes. There are fewer hazards linked to machines and what the industrial era may have brought subsequently. And then there is obviously an ethical dimension to this story. Today, people like to buy things in a more responsible, more committed way, and second-hand is clearly part of this niche. As with clothing, sellers of old furniture do a lot of sourcing work, as they say. They go to warehouses managed by large second-hand dealers. They also collect pieces from private homes, especially when there is a death in a family and they need to get rid of things that now belong to the past. And then there is also everything related to unboxing in the broad sense, at fairs and flea markets, as there are everywhere. To certify the vintage authenticity of the pieces sold on Selency, we work with experts who scrutinize every detail based mainly on photographic documents. This has no legal value strictly speaking, but it allows us, at least, to remove questionable documents from the site. Today, 50% of the designer furniture that we are offered does not pass this expertise.

If we stick to the look, the style of their clothes, are there different types of furniture sellers?

Obviously, as with any stereotype, there are antique dealers who look like lords. But we must not confine ourselves to this image. In recent years, a new generation has established itself in this discipline with modern dress codes. These are people like you meet every day, with a terribly modern look, who you wouldn't necessarily suspect are selling old furniture which, sometimes, costs a lot of money. There are also people who don't necessarily have an eye-catching look, who don't even care, but who can specialize in selling very particular pieces, in very niche genres. It's stupid to say, but we really have to keep in mind that clothes don't make a monk in our environment.

On a more personal level, do we still have time to take an interest in clothing when we spend so much time managing furniture?

My sensitivity to furniture and decoration comes from an interest, a quest for what is aesthetic in a broader way and where clothes play an important role. I've always been neat without being too sophisticated either: I'm not sharp like those who work in fashion, for example. For me, beauty must be at the service of use. I'm not the type to wear heels to do household chores. I think this attitude comes from my mother. She has always been sensitive to pretty things, she has always taken care of her interior and her appearance. She passed this attention on to me. Maxime, my partner is less picky. He spends less time than me searching, finding out information, comparing. If he buys, it's because he has a functional need, and he will just be careful that it corresponds more or less to his style.

The development of Selency has led you and Maxime to embrace representational functions. You are business leaders, and you sometimes have to attend formal meetings. How do you adapt your silhouette in these cases?

We stay true to who we are. We don't dress up because of an occasion, we keep a sort of common thread linked to our daily lives. We just might be a little more careful. We won't wear sneakers, for example, and we won't wear jeans . But it will be us. This has always been the case, in fact. We've never changed too much since the first meeting where we had to shake hands and raise funds.