Kacey Buchanan

Fashion Blogger

The difference between Haute couture and ready to wear

Anyone who has a love of fashion should know the difference between haute couture and ready to wear, so let’s take a closer look at these two forms of fashion.

The Origins Of Haute Couture

The term “haute couture” comes from the French words for “high sewing”, in reference to the attentive detail which is put into sewing the garment. Originally, the term was developed by the Federation Francaise de la Couture, the French fashion industry’s governing body and is used to describe clothing which is designed to be one of a kind. If a designer wants to create their own couture clothing collection, they first have to obtain permission from the Parisian Syndical Chamber for Haute Couture and then they must adhere to an official agreement which states that there must be a minimum of 35 pieces within the collection and the collections must be shown twice per year.

Usually, haute couture consists primary of dresses, evening wear and gowns and, in order to meet the criteria set for the brand by the Parisian Chamber of Commerce, they need to design clothing to order with private client fittings, and have a Parisian workshop that has a minimum of 15 full time workers. Although this is the true definition of Haute Couture, it is also often used more loosely to describe all custom-fitted and high fashion garments made anywhere worldwide.

haute couture catwalk

Pret A Porter Fashion

Another French term, Pret a Porter, means “ready to wear”, and this refers to high end pieces which can be bought in stores and boutiques. Many ready to wear garments are designed by famous designers like Vera Wang and Dior who are also known for designing haute couture pieces. Since only about two thousands people around the world actually buy Haute Couture garments, the great majority of fashion which is purchased is of the ready to wear kind.

ready to wear fashion show

While ready to wear fashion also appears at fashion shows, they only occur once yearly and are shown a whole year in advance. Although both haute couture and ready to wear fashion shows are artistic and elaborate, the guest list for a ready to wear show is more broad, leaving room for fashion bloggers, the press and celebrities alike. This allows the fashion houses to reach a wider audience since their lines are suited to mass production.

Ready to wear fashion is also generally created by a design team and encompasses everything from casual jeans, t shirts and tops to eveningwear rather than focusing on dresses alone.

How Does Haute Couture Impact Ready To Wear Fashion?

The primary function which haute couture fulfils is to inspire designers of ready to wear ranges, and, in turn, the fashion industry at the level of mass production. The industry is well aware that customers are keen to copy a couture look yet at a price that they can afford. While a haute couture dress can take about 300 hours to produce and cost over $90,000, a ready to wear dress only takes around 50-100 hours to make and is a lot less costly.

Diffusion Lines – The Happy Middle

defusion line clothing

There is one further term which lands right between ready to wear and haute couture fashion, and this is the “diffusion line”. This term refers to a line of clothing which enables customers to purchase a brand piece which is less costly and more casual but which has been created by the house designer. As an example, the ready to wear Armani Collezioni collection has a sister brand – AX (Armani Exchange) which is less expensive and would be termed a “diffusion label”.

The vast majority of people all around the world wear ready to wear fashion, not only because it is more affordable but also because it is much more accessible. After all, who has the time to go to Paris for private clothing fittings? The good news is that there is so much excellent ready to wear fashion available on the high street today that you can capture the essence of the haute couture look at a fraction of the price, enabling you to copy your favourite celebrities on the catwalk on your own limited budget.

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