Ready-to-wear or prêt-à-porter (pronounced: [pʁɛ.ta pɔʁ.te]; often abbreviated RTW; "off-the-rack" or "off-the-peg" in casual use) is the term for factory-made clothing, sold in finished condition, in standardized sizes, as distinct from made to measure or bespoke clothing tailored to a particular person's frame. Off-the-peg is sometimes used for items which are not clothing, such as handbags.
Ready-to-wear has rather different connotations in the spheres of fashion and classic clothing. In the fashion industry, designers produce ready-to-wear clothing intended to be worn without significant alteration, because clothing made to standard sizes fits most people. They use standard patterns, factory equipment, and faster construction techniques to keep costs low, compared to a custom-sewn version of the same item. Some fashion houses and fashion designers produce mass-produced and industrially manufactured ready-to-wear lines, while others offer garments that, while not unique, are produced in limited numbers.
Due to technological advaces, military uniforms were the first ready-to-wear garments to be mass-produced during the War of 1812. High-quality ready-to-wear garments for men became generally available soon thereafter, as the relatively simple, flattering cuts and muted tones of the contemporary fashion made proportionate sizing possible in mass production. As female fashion was, at the time, still highly ornate and dependent on a precise fit, ready-to-wear garments did not become widely available for women until much later.
Haute couture and bespoke
Fashion houses that produce a women's haute couture line, such as Chanel, Dior, Lacroix and now Saint Laurent also produce a ready-to-wear line, which returns a greater profit due to the higher volume of garments made and the greater availability of the clothing. The construction of ready-to-wear clothing is also held to a different standard than that of haute couture due to its industrial nature. High-end ready-to-wear lines are sometimes based upon a famous gown or other pattern that is then duplicated and advertised to raise the visibility of the designer.
In high-end fashion, ready-to-wear collections are usually presented by fashion houses each season during a period known as Fashion Week. This takes place on a city-wide basis, and the most prominent of these include London, New York, Milan, and Paris, and are held twice a year—the Fall/Winter (FW) shows take place in February, and the Spring/Summer (SS) collections are shown in September. Smaller lines including the Cruise and Pre-Fall collections, which add to the retail value of a brand, are presented separately at the designer's discretion. Ready-to-wear fashion weeks occur separately and earlier than those of haute couture.