For those interested in Fashion, we've all heard the word 'couture' before, but most people don't know what it is, exactly. You may have also heard the term 'haute couture' (oat koo-TUR) which essentially translates into 'high sewing' and is considered high fashion.
In 1868, an elite trade organization was formed called the Chambre Syndicale de la Couture Parisienne. Membership to this elite organization was by invitation only and was restricted only to designers who agreed to abide by it's strict rules.
To be considered as a true haute couturier a house must follow these rules:
- Create made to order garments for private clients
- Produce two collections a year
- Employ at least 15 full-time staff
- Run an atelier in Paris
- Show a set minimum of runway looks for both day and evening wear
An haute couture dress can sell for up to six figures and so "there is an unwritten rule of limiting sales of any garment worth more than $170,000 to one per continent to ensure the exclusivity that clients expect." *
Even the term "haute couture" is protected by law in Paris and very few design houses are approved and allowed to show in Paris. Despite how much a single dress can go for, haute couture only makes up a small percentage of a design house's overall sales.
The real value of haute couture is its power as a marketing tool receiving valuable press coverage, keeping the brand in the public eye and raising the status and desirability of the brand.
And now you know a little bit more about haute couture.