Haute Couture, Ready-To-Wear, and Prêt-à-Porter

Haute Couture, Ready-To-Wear, and Prêt-à-Porter by Apparel Search - Terms of Interest to the Fashion Industry

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What is the difference between Haute Couture, Ready-To-Wear, and Prêt-à-Porter?

Firstly, Ready-to-wear and Prêt-à-Porter mean the same thing. The French translation for Prêt-à-Porter into English is Ready-to-wear. Basically Ready-to-wear, is garments that are truly "ready to wear". In other words, you view them in a store, purchase them, and you are then ready to wear them. They are off the rack, high quality, garments that are NOT made to measure. Note: Even though garments are "Ready-to-wear", they still often need tailoring before you actually wear them.

Gaby Aghion the fashion designer behind the brand Chloé was the first to coin the term prêt-à-porter.

Haute Couture or Couture is fashion that is made to measure. In other words, custom made for a specific individual. Measurements are taken of the person, and then the garment is made to fit them specifically (the person buying the garment may be required to attend a few fitting sessions along the way). Haute couture is French for "high sewing" or "high dressmaking". Haute couture is made to order for a specific customer, and it is usually made from high-quality, expensive fabric and sewn with extreme attention to detail and finished by the most experienced and capable seamstresses, often using time-consuming, hand-executed techniques. Couture is a common abbreviation of haute couture and refers to the same thing in spirit.

Haute Couture originally referred to Englishman Charles Frederick Worth's work, produced in Paris in the mid-nineteenth century.

In modern France, haute couture is a "protected name" that can be used only by firms that meet certain well-defined standards. However, the term is also often used rather loosely to describe all high-fashion custom-fitted clothing, whether it is produced in Paris or in other fashion capitals such as Milan, London, New York and Tokyo.

In the opinion of Apparel Search, if you commission a Haute Couture garment, it is wise to not gain or loss too much weight during the time you wait for the garment to be produced... It would be a shame to have a made-to-measure garment manufactured for you and then find that it does not fit as well as intended (no fault of the designer)...

In summary,

  • Haute Couture (Couture) refers to the creation of exclusive custom-fitted clothing.
  • Prêt-à-Porter (Ready-to-Wear) - is a high-end luxury garment, but can be purchase off the rack and ready to wear.

It is probably a good idea for you to also learn a bit about bespoke clothing.  Did you know that bespoke clothes are different than made-to-measure clothing?

You may have interest in researching the following fashion designers. 


Calvin Klein

Christian Dior

Christian Lacroix

Coco Chanel

Collette Dinnigan

Dolce & Gabbana

Donatella Versace

Donna Karan

Ermenegildo Zegna

Giorgio Armani

Jean-Paul Gaultier

Jil Sander

Louis Vuitton

Marc Jacobs

Miuccia Prada

Pierre Balmain

Ralph Lauren

Roberto Cavalli

Stella McCartney


Tom Ford

Vera Wang

Yves Saint Laurent

 You can also take a glimpse into the world of high-end fashion at the fashion week photos website.

You may have interest in viewing the luxury fashion page or the Defining Luxury article.


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