Designer Clothing: Then vs. Now

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Designer Clothing: Then vs. Now

Designer clothing has always been synonymous with style, haute couture, and of course, money. Since its inception, these qualities have remained consistent. However, despite this steady undercurrent, there’s also a lot that has changed since Charles Fredrick Worth first stitched his name into his creations in the mid 19th century.

Let’s take a look at the designer fashion’s most notable alterations.


Then. Most designer clothing was created for a particular individual, and often, another garment of its kind would not be made. It wasn’t until the middle of the 1900s that designer fashion began to be produced in replica, and on a large scale.

Now. While designers do still create pieces with specific people in mind, most designer fashion is available to anyone who wants it – and can afford it.

On that note…


Then. Since many garments were designed and sewn for a particular individual, the cost would be quite high. Still, it’s also important to keep in mind that most clothing used to be tailor made, either by a designer/tailor, or at home. When the mass-production of clothing began, the necessity to have fashion tailor made or self-made dwindled, and so did the prices. Thank the law of supply and demand.

Now. Designer fashion is still generally more expensive than its non-designer counterparts, but the price disparity is not as vast. In fact, many top quality designers pride themselves on making the finest haute couture available to just about anyone.


Then. In the 19th century, you’d be hardpressed to be able to pluck a person from the street and have them name a single designer. In fact, the average person wouldn’t even know what you meant by ‘designer fashion’.

Now. Designer fashion is infinitely more recognizable these days. The world’s interest in (and awareness of) designer fashion extended to places beyond Paris, and by the mid-20th century, Coco Chanel and Yves Saint Laurent were practically household names. Due to the availability and affordability, today many people not only recognize at least a few designers, but have at least one designer creation hanging in their closets.


Then. Fashion design only really became anything resembling an industry in the 1900s, and the pickings were slim in terms of designers. While artists were hired to design custom clothing for wealthy customers, the variety of designs you’d see were not as diverse as today. Mind you, this is not a reflection of a lack of vision among those artists as much as it is a sign of maturity within the designer fashion industry. That, and an indication of the rules of propriety as they governed dress.

Now. With a global market hovering around the $3 trillion mark, it’s safe to say the fashion industry – and by extension, the amount of designers in it – has grown considerably. There are countless labels, and the best designer fashions worldwide continue to be the ones that have both an eccumenical signature essence, and an ability to seamlessly evolve with the times – or even better, ahead of them.

The same can be said as being the mark of any successful business, really, and throughout the centuries – then or now – this is another trait shared among all exceptional designers.

Hannah Murray

Hannah is a freelance travel and fashion writer who prides herself in finding the perfect tours and operators to make your journey as authentic and memorable as possible.

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