The Deal With Designer Clothing: 10 Need-to-Know Facts

Designer clothing is everywhere these days. From the high ceiling, glass enclosed shops in the busiest streets in the world to online boutiques like Designer Forum, ShopBop, Camilla, and the likes. Unlike a decade or two ago, when designer clothes seemed exclusive and utterly unattainable, nowadays these luxurious pieces appear to be more reachable as we find fashion bloggers mixing high and low fashion and luring us to invest in that five-hundred-dollar bag.

Despite the sense of familiarity we now have with designers, their pieces still pertain to the world of luxury. Designer clothes are the epitome of exclusivity, as only a select few can afford to wear a five-thousand-dollar dress for a night out or afford to buy day shirts that cost more than a formal dress would for the average shopper.

The world of these luxurious style items appears to be enclosed in a lot of glitz and glamour, but in fact, there is a strategic business movement and hard work that goes into the industry. In lieu of this, we have come up with 10 things you might not know about designer clothes.

1. Haute couture is rarely worn


Giambattista Valli SS16 Couture // Source: Style Frizz

Despite how awe inspiring the haute couture pieces floating down the runways may be, often, haute couture pieces are never worn outside the studio. In fact, most of the haute couture shown during fashion week is “rarely sold,” mostly, these designs are “created to enhance the good name of the house.”

2. Fabric choices

We may be waiting for the fashion designers to show us what they want us to wear but designers have to wait for fabric companies to show them what materials are available. Usually, the first thing designers look for is the fabric so they can determine the style and silhouettes they will be going for. “Like fashion companies, fabric companies will create collections, but they work a season ahead of the designers,” so the fabric will be available when the designers want to see what there is in the market for them.

3. Trends

Designers are the ones creating the designs but trends can often be determined by magazine editors as they analyze what they are seeing in the collections. Often, top magazine editors like Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar will see the common aspects found in the designers’ collections and they will come up with trend alerts for all of their readers to see.

4. Vintage status

designer clothing

Vintage Chanel jacket from the Columbia College Chicago fashion library. Photo: Emma Klug

Designer clothing that was made 20 to 100 years ago is considered vintage and anything that is beyond a 100 years old is antique. Coveted for being unique, the quality of vintage clothing is “simply unmatched by that of contemporary clothing, with the exception only of today’s highest end luxury designers.”

5. Designer clothing certified

A designer cannot simply decide he or she wants to become a haute couture designer, instead, the brand has to be approved as a couture house by the Chamber of Syndicale, which is based in Paris. There are only 14 certified haute couture designers up to this date and one of the best designers we know – Giorgio Armani – has never been accepted.

6. High prices

One reason why designer clothes are so expensive is because designers want to attract wealthier clients by offering them exclusive products. But it’s not only about exclusivity. The Business of Fashion explains the costs involved for branding, for the materials and advertising – “There are many steps along the way that contribute to the final price. There are the costs of raw materials, design, manufacturing and fulfillment. Then, at retail, there’s the cost of prime real estate and sales staff. And finally, there’s marketing: those glossy fashion adverts cost a pretty penny to produce, let alone to place.”

7. The shows

Models wear designs created by Burberry Prorsum during London Fashion Week, at Kensington Gardens in west London, Monday, Feb. 18, 2013. (Photo by Joel Ryan/Invision/AP)

Models wear designs created by Burberry Prorsum during London Fashion Week, at Kensington Gardens in west London, Monday, Feb. 18, 2013. (Photo by Joel Ryan/Invision/AP)

Showcased at four main fashion cities, the work of big-time designers is hailed during New York, London, Milan and Paris fashion week. Other smaller fashion week events and fashion shows are also held all over the world. L.A., Chicago, Moscow, Berlin… they all have fashion-focused events to spotlight local designers. 

8. Labor cost

Another reason for the high prices is because some pieces take hundreds of hours to be made especially if beading, crystals or other delicate materials are involved. When you take into consideration the designers’ and the seamstress’ hours of labor (not to mention all of the other points as mentioned above) then the expensive price stands to become a bit more reasonable.

9. New designers

Designing clothes is a sought after career by many but research finds that “a designer needs $2 million to $3 million to get a ready-to-wear company off the ground,” thus making it very difficult for those who are not backed up financially to make it in this industry.

10. The name behind the brand

Some may think that a designer will sit and work on each and every piece in the collection, but the truth is the main work of the name behind the label is to direct workers and oversee that the creations are aligned to the drawings and patterns of that season’s collection. Designers work with a team to make the brand’s vision come to life. 

Learn anything new about designer clothing? Let us know in the comment section! 

Header image source: Tommy Hilfiger 


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