barbaricyip replied to your post: eyestumblin replied to your post: ey…
this is fascinating. i want you to write more about it just bc i want to know and am apparently too lazy to do my own research
Your wish is my command! That kind of covered the most interesting parts of it though, the rest is just a more detailed rehashing.
So the clothes at the brand get designed. Then the brands have showroom staffers (like places that sell home appliances lol) who are the people that get design collections into the hands of retail buyers - people whose job is to stock their storefront, be it a department store like Bloomingdale’s or a boutique. They generally don’t interact with consumers. This is for pret-a-porter, not haute couture - which has an actual legal definition protected by the Paris chamber of commerce and a number of criteria that must be met in order to qualify. So it’s how the most expensive stuff that comes in a predetermined size gets onto the racks. The retail buyer specifically picks pieces with a regular customer in mind or a number of customers who are around the same size.
Because it’s such a choosy process MOST stuff sells at full price, but when there’s leftovers retail staff will actually contact VIP clients about private discount sales. But to avoid the risk altogether retailers will often just get pictures of the items from the staffers and send them to clients ahead of time and ask them if they’re interested before they go and buy the item. Customers are usually getting suggestions of new items all the time from a multitude of stores where their contacts are looking out for things they might want. Retailers will send collections of clothing to their rich customers’ homes so that they can see what it looks like with the clothes they already own and to avoid the hassle of fitting rooms. Most of the time it’s sent back if it’s not purchased, but some items can end up being “gifts” as well. Personal shoppers at retail stores will memorize their client’s wardrobes so that they can suggest pieces that will work with what their customers already have.
This can apply to brand boutiques (like going into an Alexander McQueen store) who you’d think would obviously have everything from their brand. Even though it’s Alexander McQueen’s line, the local store knows their customers and stocks accordingly. When my mother and I peeked into the McQueen store near the High Line in NYC this gorgeous young couple came in with their dog and the staff immediately greeted them on very familiar terms - hugs, cheek kisses, dog known by name - and went to discussing a skirt that they had in which they thought the woman would love.
When it comes from the direction of the consumer you have them watching the runways and noting down what they want to buy, then they get in touch with either the brands or the retail people at their local stores and ask about pricing and availability for the runway looks they saw. This is mostly the case with haute couture, and the orders can take 3~ 5 months to be filled.
Hotel concierges can sometimes get rather involved when it comes to super rich tourists doing the shopping. Besides of course knowing the where and what of things and giving directions on where to shop, a luxury hotel concierge has personal connections at specific store locations in order to get access at odd hours, which includes keeping stores open late, opening them early, or even just getting guests access at 3AM for an emergency something. It’s rare, but this happens. A guest might even take the concierge with them. This isn’t really limited to concierges and hotels, though. The ultra rich may just have “people.” I once read the story of a woman who wanted a specific purse to go with her outfit she’d picked for her job interview the next morning, calls were made, the store opened early just so she could come in and get the purse.
The long and short of it is that if you have money, the shopping universe will literally begin to orbit around you.
(As for the difference between ready to wear clothes and haute couture, the legal definition is thus: for something to qualify as haute couture the producer has to be a member of the Chambre syndicale de la haute couture in Paris and members have to meet this criteria:
- the clothing is made to order and the customer has at least one custom fitting for the garment
- the company maintains a Paris atelier with at least 15 full time employees, and have at least 20 employees in one workshop who are involved with the technical aspects of production - you can’t cheat by having 13 technicians and 7 people for answering the phone
- the company presents a collection to the Paris press each season that meets a number of criteria about number of pieces, types of pieces, etc
There’s actually very, very, very few members (and therefore very little legally true haute couture in the world) because many brands have dropped their couture divisions. Brands you might think of as being haute couture usually aren’t, though many of them might be former couture houses. YSL is a former member. EDIT: whoops I was wrong, McQueen is on there as a guest member.
Also there are lower rungs too, for men’s fashion, pret-a-porter, etc. So you can be a member without being haute couture. FASHION)