One-off by Apparel Search - Terms of Interest to the Fashion Industry

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According to Merriam-Webster, the term "one-off" refers to something that is done or created only once, and often quickly, simply, or improvisationally.  It can refer to items created in other design-related industries such as interior design, but often is used in the fashion industry.

The term one-off is often used in fashion newspapers, magazines, and other media to describe a trend that has been widely used by retail chains such as H&M and Topshop. Many of these big chain retailers entice fashionistas by offering one-off collections by designer and celebrity icons such as Roberto Cavalli, Madonna, and Kate Moss.

These star-studded collections offer much appeal to today's celebrity- and designer-obsessed consumer who is intrigued with those in the spotlight. The designer/celebrity partnerships, in turn, boost the retailer's image by generating a lot of publicity. In many cases word-of-mouth and celebrity endorsements have been key to building brands.

According to web-based World Wide Words, the term began as a British expression, but is now widely known in the U.S. and elsewhere. It comes from the manufacturing industry, in which off has long been used to mark a number of items to be produced of one kind: 20-off, 500-off. This expression seems to have its origins in foundry work, or a similar trade, in which items were cast off a mold or from a pattern.

By Regina Cooper - Jan 2009

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