Racked is no longer publishing. Thank you to everyone who read our work over the years. The archives will remain available here; for new stories, head over to Vox.com, where our staff is covering consumer culture for The Goods by Vox. You can also see what we’re up to by signing up here.
The contemporary market — those brands at department stores priced slightly under designer labels — is oversaturated. For every new label offering a $495 blazer or sheath dress, there’s another offering the same thing at the same price point, with only a few slight variations.
To stand out, a brand has to either offer something special or something practical. Cinq á Sept is trying to do both.
The brand is only a little over a year old, but it’s already carried at Saks Fifth Avenue, Neiman Marcus, Shopbop, Nordstrom, Bloomingdale’s, and more. Early this year, it gained even more exposure when Malia Obama wore a colorblocked Cinq á Sept dress to her father’s farewell speech; mom Michelle Obama is also a fan.
The Obamas aren’t the only celebrities who love the brand. Joan Smalls, Ashley Graham, Jennifer Lawrence, Priyanka Chopra, and Shay Mitchell have also worn the label’s draped trousers, vests, tops, skirts, and dresses.
The aesthetic of the brand — an infusion of “Parisian chic” into classic New York City style — is definitely a trope we’ve seen before. (The name literally translates to “five to seven,” a French phrase used to reference the mood, light, and atmosphere between those hours of the day.)
But Cinq á Sept can stand on its own without the whole French Girl thing. Collections are trend-driven but not wildly expensive and are intended to transition between seasons, which means more bang for your buck. “Ninety percent of the fabrics we use can be worn year-round,” founder Jane Siskin tells Racked.
Expect non-basic pieces in crepe, silk, twill, and felt that look like they cost more than they do. Cinq á Sept’s most covetable pieces include dresses you can wear to work or a wedding, and highly-detailed fashion pants that don’t cost as much as your rent — best-sellers include cropped and flared trousers that retail for $295 and khaki cotton culottes with a wide belt for $365.
The brand’s prices certainly don’t compete with fast fashion retailers like Zara and H&M, or slightly more expensive chains like Aritzia and COS, but one thing to keep in mind is that Cinq á Sept is a true department store brand; if you’re patient, a sale will certainly come around.
As for what’s next, Siskin is set on expanding. “I’m really inspired by the aspects of this girl’s life and what she’s interested in. Is she interested in home? What would that look like? Will we do shoes? Probably. I think there’s an opportunity with that same pricing strategy,” she says.