Differences between Haute Couture and Fast Fashion
March 3, 2023
Andrew Parker

Fashion is an ever-evolving world. Trends come and go, while some styles remain timeless and classic. Within this rapidly expanding form of self expression there are multiple different branches. One such category is haute couture, which refers to luxury brands that develop tailor-made, high end fashion design. On the other end of the spectrum lies fast fashion – brands such as Zara, Primark, GAP, and Forever 21. Let’s explore the differences in more detail.

Haute Couture adheres to higher standards than fast fashion brands. This is especially true for manufacturing processes. Brands utilize skilled craftsman and top-quality fabric, mostly handmade embellishments to create an exclusive niche of items. Consequently, it takes a longer time from manufacturing to the selling point. However, fast fashion companies do not follow such stringent standards. They often have large factories which employ thousands of relatively unskilled labor to perform manual tasks, and mass produce goods that are made from cheaper fabrics, dyes, and machinery.

Getty Images/Moment/ Igor Ustynskyy

As a result of differing levels of standards that the two fashion styles must comply with, the prices of clothes vary drastically. When investing in luxury products, you are paying more for top quality input materials, more time taken by labor to produce the goods as well as custom fittings. Because costs of manufacturing, exclusivity, legal rights etc. are higher, this is reflected in a higher price point. On the other hand, fast fashion is cheaper to produce and thus cheaper to sell. Companies will still make a significant profit margin by cutting costs in certain areas, as they can mass produce in a shorter time period.

Whereas haute couture items form a small niche and are exclusive, fast fashion is widely accessible to the public. The latter does not require any tailor-made clothing, so anyone can walk into a Forever 21 store and pick out an item of their choice. Whereas when it comes to luxury haute couture, clothes are meticulously fitted and designed from scratch. Only a few items are made to deliberately keep the price high and raise the prestige associated with wearing such clothes.

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