The fashion industry is growing at an alarming rate. The speed of manufacture and delivery is just as fundamental as the provision of good quality and competitive pricing within today’s markets. With so much choice, branding and terminology out there, understanding can be difficult. For example, do you know your ´RTW´ from your ´Fast´ fashion? If not, then here is my insider’s guide to the fashion industry and the fundamentals of fashion market segments.

Haute Couture

The term ‘haute couture’ describes luxurious, elaborately detailed and finished one-off pieces, combined with sometimes extravagant designs. Born out of the first fashion houses to set up in Paris in the late nineteenth century, couture is still at the very upper end of the fashion spectrum, servicing the very few who can afford the luxurious creations that are fitted specifically to the client’s every measurement. More importantly, however, for those few remaining members of the couture family, the haute couture shows in Paris represent an opportunity to showcase their design talent and act as a reminder of the immense creative ability of the designers behind the labels.

In France, haute couture is a protected term, which can be officially used only by designers who meet well-defined standards set by the Chambre Syndicate de la Couture. The terms ‘bespoke’ and ‘made-to-measure’ may also be used for any garment that is created for a specific client but is quite often found in the realms of menswear. To add to the confusion, many designers say their work is haute couture when, technically, it is not, and made-to-measure can also describe a service whereby ready-ta-wear garments are adjusted to fit the specific needs of the customer.


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