There is much to absorb in the fashion world, from understanding designers' styles and seasonal trends to the different terms used to describe types of clothes. The term ready-to-wear is common among fashion circles, but most people do not truly understand what it means. Although consumers can buy ready-to-wear clothing off the racks, typically needing no alteration, there is more to this fashion concept than meets the eye. The ready-to-wear designation applies to everything from discount jeans to designer suits.
"Ready-to-wear" is a literal English translation of the French phrase "pret-a-porter", a term used throughout the fashion industry. Also called off-the-rack and off-the-peg, this name refers to any type of clothing from budget to designer that is factory produced and sold in standard sizes.
As the name indicates, this clothing is ready to wear as is. Despite its quality or limited availability, ready-to-wear clothing is not unique and tends to have practical and informal styling, though this is not always the case.
Ready-to-wear vs. couture
The easiest way to understand ready-to-wear clothing is to contrast it directly with couture and haute couture clothing. Another French name, haute couture translates to "high dressmaking" or "high fashion".
Also called bespoke, made-to-order, or custom clothing, couture designs are directly fitted onto the individual for whom they are made, come from the creative genius of the designer, and are handmade from start to finish. Haute couture and couture lines are always special occasion or over-the-top styles, the most well known examples being wedding dresses and award show gowns.
However, all couture and haute couture designers, such as Dior, Chanel, and Versace, also offer ready-to-wear lines because mass producing clothing earns these fashion houses more money and gains the designers increased notoriety and recognition.
The different price markets of the fashion industry
Almost all the clothing produced in the world, despite its quality or origins, is ready-to-wear. However, this does not mean that anything called "ready-to-wear" falls into the same fashion sphere. There are several different levels of ready-to-wear styles, based on quality, material, and design, which help wearers further define a particular garment.
There is no official classification of these fashion markets outside the ready-to-wear and haute couture/couture designations, but looking at broad categories, based on price points of ready-to-wear collections provides some insight into the complexity of this fashion concept. By understanding these designations, people can also understand the reasons clothes found at Old Navy, for example, and within the Dior line both fit the ready-to-wear designation.
Also known as "mass market", this is the low end of the fashion spectrum, with pieces that generally sell for under AUD$50, and usually includes casual clothing like T-shirts and jeans.
A step up from budget, these items are often from the same label but represent formal clothing or could apply to work-wear brands. Moderately priced clothing generally retails for under AUD$100.
Generally retailing for under AUD$500, this type of clothing is usually made of better fabrics and sewing techniques and could include specialised garments such as formal dresses, suits, and performance sportswear.
This classification literally serves as a "bridge" between designer fashions and better clothing and generally retails for under AUD$1,000. Bridge clothing includes secondary designer lines such as MARC by Marc Jacobs, or non-haute couture designers such as Betsey Johnson and Kate Spade New York.
Haute couture designers such as Dolce & Gabbana, Chanel, and Versace, produce ready-to-wear fashion lines based on their bespoke styles, made of high-quality fabrics and sewing techniques, but which are still mass-produced, albeit in limited quantities. These items retail for above AUD$1,000.
Most clothing people wear fall into the budget and moderate categories. These classifications have nothing to do with the styles of the clothing itself. Additionally, many budget and moderate retailers use celebrity designers, such as Isaac Mizrahi, Liz Lange, and Cynthia Rowley, to inject modern style sense into their lower-priced items.
How to buy ready-to-wear clothing on eBay
When you shop on eBay, it is easy to explore the world of ready-to-wear clothing from budget to designer. Featuring styles made to fit any budget, reliable sellers offer new, used, and vintage fashion choices that are easy to browse through or search. If you are looking for a particular brand, designer, or piece, simply start on any page of the site using the main search bar. Enter as much detail as you know, such as "Dior dress size 6", and then use the limiters provided to narrow options according to factors such as price, colour, and location.