What is Couture? The Guide to Couture Fashion

No doubt you’ve heard the word ‘couture’ before. It evokes imagery of glamour, fashion runways in Paris, and high-end fashion collections. Some fashion designers that come to mind may be Pierre Cardin, Chambre Syndicale, Jean Paul Gaultier, Giambattista Valli or even Paris Fashion Week. While couture is certainly all of these things and people, there’s much more nuance to the term, and in the world it inhabits. But what is it, exactly?

Let’s learn more about couture, how it relates to the fashion world, and where you can start your own clothing line (for a fraction of the cost) as a fashion designer.

What is Couture? The Basics

Closeup view of a table with books on couture in a couturiere's shop

‘Couture’ means ‘dressmaking’ or ‘sewing.’ Hence the term “couture dress”. This is when a designer orders a highly specified clothing line from a production house for creation. The designer submits the design, the garment manufacturer goes over the design and creates the fashion line. Undoubtedly, you’ve heard the term ‘haute couture,’ too. But are these two the same thing?

What is Haute Couture?

The term Haute Couture is a French term that means the practice of creating highly specific clothing orders for clients to their specifications. It’s a crucial, influential staple of the fashion world.

‘Haute’ in French means ‘high’; ‘couture’ means ‘dressmaking’ or ‘sewing.’

What happens when you put the two terms together? You have some of the most memorable pieces of fashion ever created for the runway, from Paris to New York City Fashion Week.

Couture vs. Haute Couture

It’s important to note that couture and haute couture are two different things, even though their outcomes are similar.

What’s the difference between couture and haute couture?

Couture refers to sewing and dressmaking for specific clothes for fashion shows, art installations, or to wear.

Haute couture garments or Haute couture pieces take things a step further. Charles Frederick Worth, the so-called ‘father of haute couture,’ began his Paris fashion house in the late 1850s , and the world of design hasn’t been the same since.

For a fashion house to earn the label ‘haute couture’ or to become a ‘couture house,’ there’s an extensive list of things to know.

First and foremost, the couturier must be located in France, as the label itself is protected under French law. This is all through the Fédération de la Haute Couture et de la Mode , which protects designers from copyright infringement, piracy, and established the groundwork for what haute couture means in the fashion world.

Next, you need a bustling couturier, brimming with expert workers and high-profile private clients. For your products to remain haute couture, you need to present at least 50 designs at specific times of the year.

It’s a lot to consider, but many Parisian fashion designers have made it their life’s work.

Why is Couture so Expensive?

closeup of pink couture dress on mannequin

It should come as little surprise that ordering pieces from an atelier can be costly, often starting at well over $20,000 a collection.

When clients commission pieces from fashion companies like Christian Dior or Chanel, they’re essentially buying that sample manufacturer’s expertise in creating clothes. Experts get to work sourcing fabric, cutting and sewing, and pattern making. What results is a truly unique line of clothing samples.

However, couture doesn’t have to cost a king’s ransom. In fact, independent designers can employ the design expertise of The Evans Group for a fraction of the cost.

Costs at The Evans Group

We’ve already talked about the steep costs of high fashion. It makes sense; you’re ordering fabric, labor, and the talented eye of designers, cutters, seamstresses, and project managers.

For those aiming to break into the fashion world, the hefty price tag can be a genuine deterrent from allowing creativity to flow. TEG wants to enable every designer, no matter their background, to craft a perfect fashion line.

To start, TEG offers the ‘Test Drive,’ an exploratory option for those creating only a few samples or who want to try their hand at fashion design. The ‘Test Drive’ pricing option for emerging designers includes intimate meetings with a team of specialized design experts dedicated to helping you reach your goal.

The plan allows you to craft two samples and patterns, a special fitting with the patternmaker , and even two duplicates per style. It’s a cost-efficient way to start a journey in the fashion world.

Where to Buy Customized Fashion in LA

fashion drawing outlinig couture sample making

So, where do you go to commission fashion pieces? Be they dresses, gowns, outerwear, and other garments, a cut and sew manufacturer is a fantastic option.

With TEG , clients get the opportunity to create fashion collections in Los Angeles. Clients meet with our diverse team, create mood boards , brainstorm, and set specific goals for the team to reach.

Remember all of those hefty requirements to be labeled as high fashion? Incidentally, none of those requirements demand the use of sustainable or ethical practices when crafting clothing samples. TEG stands by its ethical and sustainable clothing production. In short, the client knows that everyone in the LA Arts District headquarters is designing their dream clothing line with an ethical edge.

A Designer’s The Next Steps

Now that you have had a more precise look at the sample-making process and everything surrounding it, it’s easy to see how any independent designer can use it to craft unforgettable garments in Los Angeles. With experience working with brands like Guess, Cosima, and Moncler, TEG bridges the gap between idea and reality. Most importantly, it allows a client’s clothing line to look right at home on runways.

For more information regarding TEG’s policies, process, and background, check out the FAQs , and get in contact with us to begin your journey into the fashion world. No need for exclusionary Paris fashion laws; we want anyone to create and thrive using our resources.

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