Monday, July 26, 2010

Terminology 101 - Haute Couture and Other Price Points

Fashion students are called upon to determine their target market for garments they are designing, and a strong (and realistic) understanding of price-point terminology is important. What price-point term do you think is probably the MOST overused? Yep - you guessed it - "Couture." So, here is a quick lesson in price-point terminology:

Turns out, the Paris Chamber of Commerce decides who qualifies to claim their designs are "Haute Couture"! I found this definition for Haute Couture on Wikipedia to clear things up:
"In France, the term haute couture is protected by law and is defined by the Chambre de commerce et d'industrie de Paris based in Paris, France. Their rules state that only "those companies mentioned on the list drawn up each year by a commission domiciled at the Ministry for Industry are entitled to avail themselves" of the label haute couture. The criteria for haute couture were established in 1945 and updated in 1992.

To earn the right to call itself a couture house and to use the term haute couture in its advertising and any other way, members of the Chambre syndicale de la haute couture must follow these rules:

1. Design made-to-order for private clients, with one or more fittings.
2. Have a workshop (atelier) in Paris that employs at least fifteen people full-time.
3. Each season (i.e., twice a year), present a collection to the Paris press, comprising at least thirty-five runs/exits with outfits for both daytime wear and evening wear" (Haute Couture, 2010).

And, by the way, if you are drinking Champagne that wasn't made in Champagne, France? It's just sparkling wine. Those crazy French with all their rules...

Other price-points are:
Designer Contemporary
Low-End Contemporary
Mass Merchant

Some of the lines become blurry between these price-points, but understanding the terminology will make you a better young designer!

Haute Couture. Wikipedia, 2010. Retrieved from on July 26,2010.