Cashing in on Couture

I recently came across a well known fashion forum in which people were asking– why are designer items priced so high? I was shocked to see some of the replies that this question received, so today we’ll take a look into why designer items are priced so high.

Designer clothes are expensive for various reasons. What we know of today as ‘haute couture’ started in the mid 19th century. Eventually it became regulated. Today there are many strict rules as to what you must do to get classified as a haute couture house such as the number of people that mare employed in your house or the amount of workrooms, etc.

What one must understand about the cost is that each couture fashion house strives to create a collection that is timeless– something that will be revered for its attention to detail and quality for decades to come. In couture only the finest luxury fabrics are used. Each house strives to maintain the integrity of the piece they designed while making adjustments to the clients figure and personal preference—which sometimes, will even double the work load.

When you buy a couture item, it is required of all haute couture houses that at least one fitting is held. This is labor-intensive process. You also must understand is that these houses sew all of their clothes by hand—only using machine where VERY uniform stitches MUST bee seen.

There are many different sections of a haute couture house. In these houses there is a tailoring room and a dress making room, each having its individual specifications as to how it carries out its work. This may vary from what they make down to the details of what thimbles they use.

Detailed work, such a beading and metal casting is often sent to one of the many specialty shops in Paris. Most everything in haute couture is custom made, including the buttons (and fabric)!

Pret-a-porter, or ready-to-wear collections are different in that the pieces in the collection are not primarily sewn by hand. Instead pieces are assembled my machine operators in a piece-work system in which each operators performs the same task over and over again; thus there is a considerable amount of less handwork than that in haute couture. Luxury ready to wear is made of out high-quality fabrics and sold to many high-end stores in the worlds—however hundreds of each item may be made, versus only the handful that may be made in haute couture. Most of these pieces are clean finished or lined with a rayon or silk lining that conceals the unfinished seams.


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