3 types of markets in Fashion

In the fashion industry, there are 3 types of different markets in which fashion is created and sold. These three types of markets are:
  • Haute Couture
  • Ready-to-wear
  • Mass Market
We start off with possibly the most well-known term in fashion: Haute Couture. But what does this term define?
Haute Couture
Haute Couture can be defined as luxurious, custom made and well detailed pieces. What is most special about haute couture is that any design is only made once, and is tailored to the exact measurements of the owner.
Fashion is elaborated from haute couture, as it were the first pieces of garments recognized by designers. It started in France, and is still a business taken very seriously in the same country. In France you cannot become an haute couture designer without the recognition of the Chambre Syndicale de la Couture. Chambre Syndicale de la Couture will judge if the designers follow these rules before they can call themselves haute couture designers:
  • Design ideas or made-to-order pieces for private clients, with fittings
  • Have an own atelier in Paris, with a least fifteen employees
  • Have at least 20 technical employees in the atelier
  • Designers need to present a collection of fifty original designs to a public audience twice a year. This includes day and evening garments
Some well-known designers are acknowledged by the Chambre Syndicale de la Couture, like Viktor & Rolf, Givenchy and Christian Dior.
There are a lot of brands that create made-to-measure pieces. Don’t mistake this for haute couture. Made-to-measure is tailored to the exact measurements of the clients, but the pieces are not one of a kind. This is an aspect for the Ready-to-Wear market, which will be discussed next.
The Ready-to-Wear segment is not a term that comes to mind easily, yet it is still a big market in the industry. Ready-to-Wear can be defined as pieces of designs that come in a range of standard sizes, that anybody can shop in stores. Because of the standard sizes (from S to Xl or 34 to 42) the fitting takes a small amount of time and therefor becomes less expensive and is accessible for a wider audience.
Don’t mistake ready-to-wear for a ‘cheap’ market, the segment is still based on unique designs with an eye on detail and finish. Which means that luxury, high-end, mid-level and premium designs are a part of the ready-to-wear segment. Designers who create haute couture, also create ready-to wear collections, like Chanel. And even though Haute Couture is showcased every 2 times a year, ready-to-wear is showcased throughout the whole year and all over the world.
Ready-to-wear pieces can be bought in the designers own store, like Gucci and Ralph Lauren, or are wholesaled to department stores like Macy’s.
A segment with an even wider audience than ready-to-wear is mass-market. Mass-Market can be described as clothes that is produced in very large quantities of standard sizes. The designs are mostly based on trends from ready-to-wear collections. Because they offer a large collection with standard sizes and less original designs that is crafted out of less expensive material, the price is low and accessible for a large audience.
A small change in mass-market is that stores or the designs more often get their ideas from other inspirational aspects, such as street fashion, office must haves and even evening garments.
After the pieces are produced the pieces are often found in stores like Zara, H&M and Primark. A small downside to mass-market is that it is unpredictable what pieces will be popular and sell out fast. But because of the big (cheap) production, owning the retail stores and selling all pieces for retail price, mass-market stores can be flexible with their prices when it comes to sale or staying ahead of the competition.
Product areas
The following chart showcases the product areas for Fashion Design. This chart is handy to check out what kind of clothing you want to design, what is entails and what market it can be specialised in.


Even though the fashion industry is a large pool of ideas that you want to dive in, dip in your toe first to feel the correct temperature. Start creating for one area and segment. Once your base is set, and your message has come across to the buyers, press and the consumers, you can put your newly experience, knowledge and money into a wider range of areas. Try to expand with collections, pieces and designs that empower and compliment your base products. If your base is selling men’s eveningwear like suits, try to expand with shoes, ties and belts. This way trustworthy clienteles don’t need to hesitate in buying the complete package from your brand. They will know the quality, price and designs are a match made in heaven.

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