People Watcher & Person to Watch
When Clémence arrived in New York from France (via Dubai and London) she was taken by all the badass women she saw around her—their eclectic style and independent attitude, for starters—and she wanted to know more. She created the platform Passerbuys where all her sartorial and anthropological interests could collide into a hybrid of a shop-able style blog, recommendation site, and consignment store, all while featuring some of the most innovative and creative young women in the city. Here, she shares her story, her go-to outfit for Spring, and her favorite haunts in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, where she lives.
You’re originally from Paris. When did you arrive in New York and what prompted the move?
I was born in Nice and raised in Dubai during its transformation from a desert to a cosmopolis. My family now lives in Paris so that’s where I call home. I always wanted to move to the U.S. (I weirdly even acquired an American accent.) Growing up in Dubai, I was immersed in American culture, from sitcoms like Seinfeld and Golden Girls to restaurants like Chili’s and randomly Johnny Rockets, which I tried recently out of nostalgia and was disgusting. The dream was to go to college but somehow I thought it was a good idea to only apply to 5 Ivy Leagues and got denied by all of them. So after 5 years in London and not connecting with it, I decided to revisit that dream and planned my big move to NYC.
Can you briefly describe your career journey until now?
My first job out of High School was working at American Apparel in Paris. (It was a lot of fun, it’s a shame what they’ve become now.) I then moved to London to go to business school, and I graduated from King’s College with an MSc in International Marketing. I dipped my toes in advertising as a junior planner then decided I wanted make films and move to NYC. I didn’t quite get into making films due to my visa situation, so instead I found myself getting sponsored by a film production company and leading their marketing efforts. That experience slightly put me off from the industry as I naively thought I’d be surrounded by film buffs rather than Hollywood bros—it wasn’t an ideal place for a twenty-something female. After a year and a half of that, I took on a waitressing job and started making videos with two guys under the name ‘As Big As Possible’ and one thing led to another, I came up with Passerbuys and then got a job as digital content manager at a start-up called Splacer.
What was the impulse behind starting Passerbuys and how has it broadened your experience of New York City and beyond?
I’m big on people watching and I’ve always been curious about the people walking past me. “What are they reading?” “What music do they listen to?” “Where did they get that bag?” Seeing the same type of people and same type of products being featured in blogs and magazines made me want to start my own thing—a place where I could get real inspiration. Granted, this project has lead me to spend more money on books and clothes that I can afford but it’s been so much fun meeting such inspiring and cool women. I’ve been surprised by how open and supportive they’ve been, from sharing their great grandmother’s secrets, giving out career tips to recommending their friends to Passerbuys—it’s become such a great community. In terms of how this project has broadened by experience here? I would say I’ve gotten some excellent recommendations on NYC restaurants and hidden gems.
How do you find your subjects?
A bit of a mix of everything! Some I found at the subway or on my way to work, while others were friends and others were recommended.
What have you learned about New York women?
They are badass.
How would you describe your fashion aesthetic? Do you have a go-to springtime outfit that you love? If so, what is it?
I’m big on simplicity and quality materials, so I’m drawn to brands like Lemaire, Maryam Nassir Zadeh, and COS. My go-to spring outfit is probably going to be the entire Uniqlo x Lemaire Summer Lookbook.
Which neighborhood do you live in? What do you love about it? Can you share three of your favorite go-to spots?
I live in Greenpoint, and I like how chill it is, although I’m seeing it slowly transitioning into Williamsburg #2. My favorite go-to spots: Scalino for food, ETC for coffee, and Ramona’s for drinks.
As an artistic person, what are your favorite places to go in the city for creative inspiration?
I would say Lincoln Film Society, Barneys, Transmitter park, and Troost’s backyard.