Saturday, September 19, 2009

Ready-to-Wear vs Custom-Made

Fashion Week is over here in NYC, and everywhere, the press has been full of stories on the state of the industry, the price of the clothes and how to give the industry, especially at the high end, a jolt.

Debate over price point, $800.00 for a dress is considered by some to be to “low end” for “high end” according to an interview in the NYT with Vera Wang, while Thakoon shows off $100.00 a yard fabric that he plans to use for a dress that will wind up at about 2000.00 in the stores.

Me, I think this is pretty impressive, considering he has to make that dress, pay for all the materials (There is a lot of draping this season=more fabric) & notions (trims, buttons, zippers etc) plus the highly skilled sewers needed to make something that will merit that price and then, add his markup, covering fixed and variable costs, and allowing for some profit (this should also include an allowance for buy backs & charge backs) plus carrying costs, since he will probably have to wait between 90 - 120 days to get paid. All this, for about 1/3rd of that estimated retail price.

On the other hand, in Thursdays’ style section was a feature “The Bodysuit Electric” featuring a $2300.00 ready-to-wear YSL strapless leather 1980’s style bodysuit, and all the different ways you can wear it. (Unfortunately all too 1980's derived) It is a hot, sexy garment, but why would you buy this as RTW? Even in the editorial you can see that the model will fall out of it the second she spontaneously raises an arm. A great piece, but a piece of this sort screams out to be custom-made. And when you consider the investment, it should to be custom-made.

What do you think, RTW vs Custom-Made?
Why and for what would you make the choice, or not, to go Custom-Made?

Or even Made-to-Order? (Usually an existing style, but adjusted to suit, usually within a specified size range.)

Other reads:
Wall Street Journal - various articles on Luxury

There is a ton more out there, but my brain is a bit fried from the last week. I need a break!

Runway (!) Image Credit
There are some really fabulous photos here, Enjoy!



  1. I don't feel qualified to enter the RTW versus custom made debate. But it seems we all ought to own at least one custom made piece of clothing in our lives. If Cave people didn't buy off the rack, why should we? Okay, maybe that's not the ideal argument. How about the fact that, in my experience at least, nothing feels as good as wearing something tailored to the contours of your own body. And to own a piece of gorgeous leather (cue the Carla Behrle entry music) that fits you like a well, you know, I say Yes! Yes! Yes.

  2. Wow! (wow) & Thanks!(I never thought of it that way- cave men!) and I am going to take this op to plug the music again!'cause I love it so much!

    It's by Bent Meridian Music: bentmeridian-at-gmail-dot-com

  3. Very few of us have bodies that match the bodies which serve the basis of RTW sizing. That may not be a big deal for some of your garments but like your night shirt but custom made are the only way I can wear a button front top or dress. I have very narrow shoulders and neck but a more than generous bust line. Either my buttons are gaping or the neckline is so big big it is gaping and falling off my shoulders.There is a huge difference in how you feel when you something that you are tugging at or can't move a certain way to prevent calamity or when you are wearing something that feels and looks good, something that you move in with confidence.

  4. Yes, when you know your body type you are way ahead of the game, & can cut to the chase and buy custom-made or something that is Made-to-Order. (Which in my vocabulary is something that is adjusted from a standard size & made closer to an individual's body type.)
    While not every fitting issue can be addressed this way, an astonishing amount can be accomplished.
    If only Made-to-Order was more readily available from more companies. It would address not only issues of FIT, but issues of WASTE. This industry, at least the manufacturing part of, it is full of incredible waste.
    The next best thing, is to know what you can work with and have a good tailor.


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