Ready-to-Wear Vs. Haute Couture

Fashion is ubiquitous as it is present in every society and in every class. People, based on their choice, financial status, and budget, follow certain fashion styles. The rich people of the country have their own style of fashion and the lower income group people have their own fashion style. In fact, in this technologically advanced world, where copycat fashion is practiced, fashion design cannot differentiate between rich people’s fashion and poor people’s fashion, as both may wear the same designed dresses. But definitely, there are differences in the quality of fabrics used in making both the dresses; the way they are made; the person who made them; etc. Likewise, for the lower income group, ready-to-wear clothes are readily available; on the other hand, rich people prefer haute couture garments. So, this article describes the meanings and differences between ready-to-wear and haute couture.

What is Ready-to-Wear?

Literally, ready-to-wear is mass-produced garments. It is factory-made fashion that is produced, especially for the middle or lower middle income group. It is made for a variety of customers, so it is available in different sizes. One distinguishing feature of ready-to-wear garments is that they are designed and sewed within the confines of standardized size, and as a result, they fit the majority of people fairly well. People can buy and wear it without or sometimes with little alteration. The concept of ready-to-wear evolved in Paris, France, so, in the French language, it is known as Prêt-à-Porter.

What is Haute Couture?

The term haute couture has French origins and its literal meaning is "high sewing’ or "high dressmaking." Likewise, haute couture is a custom-fitted creation, designed for a few pre-defined people or even for a single person. To make such designs, along with using high quality fabric and other required elements, largely handmade technology is used. Surprisingly, most of the designs are handmade, which takes too much time. Because of all these reasons, its prices range are much beyond the expectations of the middle class people. The story of the beginning of haute couture fashion is pretty interesting, as it conceptualized by Charles Frederick Worth in the mid-nineteenth century. He designed a dress for the then French Empress Eugenie (wife of Napoleon III), and this creation made him a distinguished person in this industry. Soon, he left behind the traditional French dressmaking and grew to the next level. His sole intention was to create high-quality and expensive dresses. To create such intricate designs, he largely used unusual and high-quality materials and used to sew with extreme attention, even to minute details. And, for such minute work, he only trusted well-qualified and experienced tailors. In due course of time, this method of creating high fashion became popular globally, but Paris is still the capital of haute couture.

What is the Difference Between Ready-to-Wear and Haute Couture?

The following table illustrates the major differences between ready-to-wear and haute couture −

Ready-to-Wear Haute Couture (High Fashion)
It is mass-produced garments made in standardized size. It is high-end, custom-made clothing designed and tailored exclusively for the wearer.
It is largely factory made garments. It is largely handmade dress.
Consumers are middle class and lower middle class people. Its consumers are only affluent people.
Its prices range from low to medium high. Its starting price is much more higher than the highest price of ready-to-wear.
Its French name is Prêt-à-Porter. Its French name is haute couture.
Cheap and other synthetic materials are used in making such garments. Only high quality and expensive materials are used.
There are hundreds of garment industries those are making ready-to-wear garments. In the whole world, there are only a few centers where haute couture dresses are made.

Ready-to-wear and haute couture, both have their own meaning and significance. However, the ready-to-wear garment is necessity for mass, as majority of people belong to middle class and lower middle class and for them haute couture is unapproachable luxurious garments. On the other hand, for affluent people, haute couture is their need. In the kind of environment, they live, they have to maintain such life-style.


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