Ready-to-wear clothing, also known as off-the-rack or prêt-à-porter clothing, refers to clothing that are manufactured in standard sizes and made available for purchase in retail stores or online without any further alterations. These clothes are produced in large quantities and designed to fit a range of body types, catering to the average measurements of the target market.
Ready to wear clothing is in contrast to made-to-measure or bespoke clothing, which is custom-made according to the individual measurements and specifications of the wearer. Ready-to-wear garments are typically produced by fashion brands and designers who create collections based on seasonal trends and styles.
The advantage of ready-to-wear clothing is its accessibility and convenience. Customers can browse a variety of styles, sizes, and price ranges, and purchase garments that are immediately available. Ready-to-wear collections are often showcased in fashion shows and then produced for mass distribution. While the fit may not be perfect for everyone, adjustments can be made through simple alterations or styling choices.
Ready-to-wear clothing is a significant segment of the fashion industry, providing a wide range of options for consumers seeking fashionable and affordable clothing without the need for customization or wait times.
Ready-made clothing became popular during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Before that time, most clothing was custom-made or handmade by individuals or tailors. However, several factors contributed to the rise of ready-made clothing:
- Industrialization: The Industrial Revolution, which began in the 18th century, brought significant advancements in textile manufacturing and garment production. Machinery and assembly line processes allowed for mass production of textiles and clothing, creating ready to wear clothing manufacturers.
- Standardization of sizing: The development of standardized sizing systems in the mid-19th century was a crucial step in the popularity of ready-made clothing. The adoption of standardized measurements and sizing charts allowed for the mass production of garments by the ready to wear clothing manufacturers that could fit a wide range of individuals, reducing the need for custom tailoring.
- Urbanization and population growth: As cities grew and populations expanded during the 19th century, the demand for clothing increased. Ready-made clothing offered a convenient and time-saving solution for urban dwellers who lacked the resources or time to have garments custom-made.
- Mail-order catalogs: The introduction of mail-order catalogs by companies like Montgomery Ward and Sears, Roebuck and Co. in the late 19th century made ready-made clothing accessible to people in rural areas. Customers could browse through catalogs, select garments, and have them delivered by mail.
- Changing social norms and fashion trends: The late 19th century witnessed a shift in fashion trends, with a growing interest in standardized styles and the adoption of ready-made clothing by the middle class. The availability of fashionable and affordable ready-made garments allowed individuals to keep up with the latest trends without the need for custom tailoring.
By the early 20th century, ready-made clothing had become widely popular and accessible to a broad range of consumers. It revolutionized the fashion industry and transformed the way people acquired and wore clothing.