What is Ready-to-wear?
Ready-to-wear (Pret-a-Porter in French) refers to clothing and accessories made en-mass by machines in standard sizes and available for purchase as they are, without the need for custom tailoring.
Intended for the mass market, Ready-to-wear clothing, footwear, and accessories are functional, affordable, and easy to procure.
However, despite being mass-produced in factories, there are Ready-to-wear garments with a level of detail that rivals custom-made and bespoke fashion creations.
Ready-to-wear in fashion manufacturing emerged during the 19th century with the advent of the Industrial Revolution.
During that time, fashion factories with sewing machines and mass production methods became the norm, taking over local artisans and handcrafted apparel.
The ‘machine-made’ approach democratized the fashion industry, making clothing, footwear, and accessories accessible to consumers worldwide at meager costs. 
The Miniskirt Phenomenon
Fueled by youth culture rebelling against social norms, the 1960s miniskirt fashion revolution started by designers like Mary Quant and André Courrèges accelerated the adoption of Ready-to-wear clothing. 
Democratization of Luxury
After the global expansion of the luxury goods market in the 80s, in a process called “democratizing the concept of luxury,” high-end designers and luxury houses started to create diffusion lines to reach a wider audience.
The diffusion lines are Ready-to-wear copies inspired by high-end brands and their exquisite collections but machine-made from cheaper materials. 
Fast fashion is a streamlined and more automatized version of the Ready-to-wear business model called ‘quick response.’
The fast fashion business model of manufacturing and retailing clothing emerged in the US in the late 1990s and early 21st century.
To date, fast fashion remains one of the most successful and profitable production-consumption models in the fashion industry. 
Example 1: The Trench Coat
Burberry’s trench coat is a classic example of an early timeless creation that, under technological advancements and global demand, has become a machine-made Ready-to-wear piece. 
Example 2: The Little Black Dress
Chanel’s “Little Black Dress” is another quintessential garment that has reached global demand as a Ready-to-wear creation. 
Example 3: Denim Jeans
Levi’s denim jeans are another excellent example of a functional garment that has evolved to Ready-to-wear status under global market demand as a modern and stylish dressing option. 
Who Designs Ready-to-wear?
Designers in the Ready-to-wear sector range from well-known fashion houses like Chanel and Dolce & Gabbana to mainstream retail brands like Zara and H&M.
Even high-end designers like Ralph Lauren, Gucci, and Versace straddle high-end and affordable Ready-to-wear markets. 
1. Versatile and Affordable
Ready-to-wear clothes, footwear, and accessories cater to various consumer bodies with unique tastes and lifestyles.
Whether work attire, sportswear, or casual clothing, Ready-to-wear fashion is inclusive, diverse, and affordable for everyone. 
Compared to custom-made fashion – a costly approach to fashion creation – Ready-to-wear is a revenue-generating machine.
The global Ready-to-wear market was valued at approximately $1.3 trillion in 2020 and continues to grow steadily. 
3. Fast Manufacturing
The Ready-to-wear model of manufacturing affordable and trendy clothes, footwear, and accessories at breakneck speeds has been adopted and perfected by fashion giants like Zara and H&M.
However, the Ready-to-wear system is also at the core of the fast-fashion manufacturing approach and growing concerns about sustainability and ethical practices. 
4. Standard Sizing
Unlike bespoke garments tailored to client’s needs, specifications, and body types, Ready-to-wear clothes are created in industry-standard sizes.
The ‘one-size-fits-all’ standardization ensures fashion clothes, footwear, and accessories fit several buyers’ segments, thus lowering returns. 
Ready-to-wear vs. Haute Couture
There are five main differences between Ready-to-wear (Pret-a-Porter) and Haute Couture, as explained below:
1. Production Method
Ready-to-wear is produced en-mass by machines, while haute couture is handcrafted by expert artisans.
2. Price Point
Haute couture is exceptionally expensive, whereas Ready-to-wear has a broad price range at a much lower price point.
Haute couture creations are highly exclusive, while Ready-to-wear is accessible to the general public.
Haute couture offers customization, whereas Ready-to-wear is standardized.
Haute couture requires months for a single piece of clothing, while Ready-to-wear clothes are available immediately.
Who Wears Ready-to-wear?
From professionals donning tailored suits to teenagers embracing streetwear, the Ready-to-wear market caters to everyone, irrespective of age, gender, or economic status.
Ready-to-wear Largest Companies (Top 5)
Inditex is the parent company of fast-fashion giant Zara and the largest Ready-to-wear manufacturer in the fashion industry.
Louis Vuitton Moët Hennessy owns several Ready-to-wear brands.
3. Fast Retailing
FR is the corporate umbrella under which Uniqlo operates.
4. H&M Group
Hennes & Mauritz AB is a Ready-to-wear giant that owns fast-fashion brands like H&M, COS, and Monki.
5. Gap Inc.
Gap Inc. encompasses the Gap clothing brand, Old Navy, and Banana Republic.
The historical roots of Ready-to-wear and its evolution represent the fashion industry’s response to changing times and shifting paradigms.
At the confluence of art and commerce, modern Ready-to-wear fashion influences stylistic attitudes and creates cultural and societal shifts.
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After years of managing hundreds of fashion brands from London's office of a global retailer, Mandy has ventured into freelancing. Connected with several fashion retailers and media platforms in the US, Australia, and the UK, Mandy uses her expertise to consult for emerging fashion brands create top-notch content as an editorial strategist for several online publications.