We are all familiar with
luxury brands such as Versace, Prada, Diesel and Giorgio
Armani. These brands create finely crafted, highly
coveted, and very expensive pieces. We know
they are costly and luxurious, but do we
understand the classification that the apparel
industry would assign such brands.
The apparel industry has
many terms to classify various elements such as
garment price points. In all honesty, it
can get rather confusing. In an effort to
help make this issue a tad big more manageable,
Apparel Search has created the following price
point definition guide.
Here is a quick test to see
if you need to review our guide. If this
following paragraph presents confusion to you,
you may want to try our guide:
“Just as luxury
refers to a very high-end class of brands,
contemporary refers to a segment of designer
brands. It falls below luxury and along
the same level as bridge, which is a
segment that features secondary, lower-priced
lines by luxury designers using lower-priced
fabrics. From there lies the moderate
category, which includes lines like Levi's, and
budget, which consists of mass market
brands like Forever 21 and H&M. Lastly, you have
the off-price category, which includes
discounted pieces, off-season fashion and
close-out pieces from retailers ."
Fashion Industry Price Point Classifications
or mass market - The
low end of the apparel spectrum with clothes,
footwear, and accessories that retail at
relatively low price points. Garments are
typically at fair quality and at fair value.
Often casual sportswear such as jeans and
T-shirts falls into this category.
However, the clothing category is not the
primary issue at hand. For example, not
all jeans or tees would qualify. Keep in
mind that these silhouettes can be designed by
high end designers and would too expensive to be
for budget or mass market. It is important
to think of the brand in addition to the garment
type. Mass market apparel sometimes is a
knockoff of higher priced designer items. When
we say “knockoffs", we refer to clothing with
similar appearance but are sold at popular
prices to the masses. It is important to
note that “typically" the quality would be lower
along with the price. The “mass market"
segment received its name because it serves the
“masses" (has a large consumer base). The
mass market and budget driven stores typically
buy in large quantities so they are able to keep
retail prices low. Many designers are
starting to turn to mass market retailers such
as Target to introduce lower-priced, but
well-styled merchandise: Cynthia Rowley, Todd
Oldham, Liz Lange, Isaac Mizrahi are a few.
Old Navy, Cherokee, and Mossimo are a few
popular budget labels. Product sold at mass
market is intended for broad consumption.
Product is often derivations of popular styles
and staples. This is the lowest price
classification in which one would find
advertised brand names. Prices are below
average. Promotion of this price range to
consumers is often based on value. Retailers in
this space typically work on high volume and low
or Off-price – Low
priced merchandise. This price range may
include samples, close-outs, discontinued,
season items or irregulars. The
clothing could have been at any price
originally, but is retailing for less now.
Outlet malls or stores like Ross are example of
off-price retailers selling a mixture of
discount labels. This category contains
two primary sources of merchandise. The
first kind are produced specifically for the
discount market. The second sort of
discount goods is clothes that have been sold in
the off price market because the items didn’t
sell at the originally intended price point
category. Some designers move down to discount
price points if their brand is becoming less
sought after than it had been in the past.
There are a broad range of discount stores.
Some sell goods that are very low priced such
as dollar stores and other discounters such as
TJ Maxx sell moderate. Other discounters
sell bridge or contemporary. Discount is
difficult to categorize because a discounter can
sell a wide variety of classifications.
They can sell moderate, better, bridge,
designers, etc., as long as it is done at a
- Dresses, sportswear, career wear and
nationally advertised apparel brands fit into
this price point category. Companies such
as Nine West, Levi’s, Gap, Van Heusen, and
Land's End are all in the moderate range.
Medium priced merchandise which is a step above
budget. This is the price classification that
majority of clothing and footwear fall into.
The majority of Children's wear labels also
fall into this category. Many fashion
labels straddle this category. Retailers such
as Dillard’s and Macy’s maybe considered to be a
moderate department store although their women’s
wear and men’s wear can hit contemporary and
better price points. The bulk of sportswear
falls into moderate category.
Contemporary - This
price range is also referred to as Popular. Contemporary
means belonging to the same period of time.
Conforming to modern or current ideas in style,
fashion, design, etc.
Contemporary - More of a fashion-forward look,
than just a specific price point. This
classification is often aimed at women in their
'20s and early '30s who are looking for trendy
apparel, but at an affordable (at least compared
to designer) price. BCBG, Bisou Bisou, Betsey
Johnson, XOXO, Isabel Ardee and Rebecca Taylor
are all considered contemporary lines.
Contemporary fashion usually
refers to modern, hip or in. However it also
means the style of a certain time. So the
contemporary fashion of a decade ago would
differ from the contemporary fashion of a
century ago. More
of a fashion-forward look, than just a specific
price point. This classification is often aimed
at women in their '20s and early '30s who are
looking for trendy apparel, but at an affordable
price. A great contemporary brand is one with
a unique look and feel. Although similar
or higher than Better in regard to pricing,
Contemporary implies the latest in new styling.
Sort of avante-garde and trendy (The
avant-garde pushes the boundaries of what is
accepted as the norm or the status quo,
primarily in the cultural realm). This
category is clearly targeted for younger
fashion-forward consumers, sizing is typically
limited to juniors and misses. Contemporary is
currently one of the hottest categories. It
represents street wear and trendy fashion
conscience merchandise, at below Bridge pricing.
This is possibly one of the fastest growing
pricing categories in the industry.
- Medium to higher priced merchandise.
Sportswear, coordinates and dresses may all
appear in better lines. Jones New York, Perry
Ellis and Anne Klein are two examples of a
better-priced line. The fabrics, styling,
and craftsmanship are of better quality than
lower-priced items. These products are
slightly higher profile lines that are found in
department stores. Promotion of this price
range to consumers is often based on an implied
high standard of quality. This is usually the
lowest price point category for what consumers
consider a “designer" line such as Liz Claiborne
or Jones New York. It is important to keep
in mind that a “designer" name brand may have a
stable of similarly named labels designed to hit
varying price points. A designer may have
brands in the Better category, but also other
similar brands in another category. The Better
category is the cut off point for children’s
apparel. Some kids brands venture into
better and some brands actually go higher. But
most childrenswear lines are moderate or lower.
- A "bridge" between better and designer, this
category is often for career separates and
dresses in finer fabrics. Bridge is
usually the lower priced or secondary lines of
fashion designers. Bridge products
have the look of designer products but are made
from less expensive fabrics. Examples are
Lauren by Ralph Lauren, Donna
Karan's DKNY line, Emmanuel Ungaro's Emmanuel
line and JOE for Joseph Abboud. Ellen
Tracy and Dana Buchman may also fall into this
range. There is a large amount of
competition in this apparel price range
- Designer products cater to the high priced
prestige or luxury market. True designer
collections often sell at a rather steep price
point (meaning; expensive). The fabrics,
construction, detailing and trimming are usually
superior to other ready-to-wear items. At this
level, the designer can give free reign to
creativity without too much concern to cost as
in a bridge line. Designer clothing usually
sells in specialty boutiques, or boutique
sections in fine department stores. Examples of
designer clothing are Gucci, Prada, Versace,
Balenciaga, Marc Jacobs, Joseph Abboud, Bill
Blass, Calvin Klein, and Oscar de la Renta.
This category includes the RTW (Ready to Wear)
lines of haute couture designers such as Chanel
and Issey Miyake, etc. Designer Clothing
is usually the product into which a designer
pours his or her heart and soul. Although most
of these designers produce a bridge collection
as well, the designer collection is usually
tagged specifically with the designers name.
For example, the "Giorgio Armani
Collection". There is a distinct difference in
price and garment construction between designer
and bridge although both may appear to carry the
same designer name.
Made-to-Measure – Couture and
Made-to-Measure are similar but different.
Haute Couture is limited to syndicate
members producing made to measure pieces.
If a fashion designer is not a syndicate
member, they are not technically a Haute
Couturier designer. Learn more
about syndicate membership at the Mode A
Paris website. Made-to-Measure is clothing
that is manufactured specifically for one
person. It is cut & sewn specifically for
their body dimensions.
Made-to-measure apparel or couture costs tens of
thousands of dollars and only a handful of
clients can afford it. The highest
priced garments carry the classification of
couture. The literal French translation
is, “The finest dressmaking". These are mostly
original designs, handmade, measured and cut to
fit an individual's specific body measurements.
In many cases, couture designs are
one-of-a-kinds and usually run several to tens
of thousands of dollars in price. This is the
absolute upper-end of the market. Couture
often gets exposure for a designer through
magazine layouts and from celebrities who wear
the creations in public. Chanel Couture is an
example of a haute couture label.
Do you know
difference between Haute Couture
(Made-to-Measure) and Ready to Wear (RTW)?
If you have a better way to
describe the various ranges please share
your thoughts in the comments section
below. If you have questions about
above, you are welcome to list them as
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