What does "Haute Couture" mean? "Haute couture" is a French term, which means high fashion. This expression refers to the elegance and taste of clothing (P. Paccaud, 2004).
France - and particularly Paris - can be considered the birthplace of fashion. It is the largest fashion center of the world (Thomas White Global Investing, 2010). Yet, the "Haute Couture" is more than simple fashion; it represents the fashion jewel and can trace its roots to Paris. Indeed, the fashion luxury industry is the heritage of France and French people are currently held up as the European model of elegance and fashion (V. Barnier, I. Rodina & P. Valette-Florence, 2005). Nowadays, the country tries to protect its advantage in the "Haute Couture" label; a certain number of formal criteria must be met for a fashion house to use the label and a list of eligible houses is made official every year by the French Ministry of Industry. Thus, the "Haute Couture" area in France is exclusive and protected by a professional union, the "Chambre Syndicale de la Haute Couture" (Modeaparis.com, 2010).
This essay contains a brief description of the Haute Couture area in France, and an analysis of the reason for this nation's advantage in this sector.
[...] COMPETITIVE ADVANTAGE OF FRANCE IN HAUTE COUTURE 3 I. Haute couture in France 1. Background & current situation French leadership in fashion may perhaps be dated from the 18th century, when the art, architecture, music, and fashions of the French court at Versailles were imitated across Europe. Yet, the real notion of Haute Couture appeared a century later.The situation changed because of the development of the textile industry, notably the silk in Lyon, and the dyeing improvements. It started by a paradox; even if Paris is the fashion capital, it is an English milliner living in France who had created “Haute Couture”. [...]
[...] Yet this support can also become a danger for brands: it can belittle its image COMPETITIVE ADVANTAGE OF FRANCE IN HAUTE COUTURE Reference Articles: V. Barnier, I. Rodina & P. Valette-Florence (2005) Which luxury perceptions affect most consumer purchase behaviors? A cross-cultural exploratory study in France, the United Kingdom and Russia, University Pierre Mendes-France of Grenoble, France Q. Domart, C. Hoorman & D. Licata (2006) Les secrets du luxe a la française, L'Expansion online [Accessed 10.Nov. 2010] Available at:
[...] Yet, the sector is a luxury segment and it is well worth comparing to companies' benefit (Modeaparis.com) COMPETITIVE ADVANTAGE OF FRANCE IN HAUTE COUTURE Demand conditions The French “Haute Couture” symbolizes luxury and the image of Paris supports this. All over the world, Paris and its fashion creators like Dior, YSL, etc. have a prestigious image Sophisticated and demanding buyers In France, the domestic demand is really specific; French are hard to please. In fact, French demand for luxurious products is one of the most sophisticated in the world (M. [...]
[...] Teddy, 2010) COMPETITIVE ADVANTAGE OF FRANCE IN HAUTE COUTURE 3. Related and supporting industries An organized unit Since 1858, Couture houses have been getting organized, all set in Paris: from the suppliers to the schools. It remains a place for the exchange between all assets for the industry: all is within reach (suppliers, transport, schools, communication ) (P. Paccaud, 2004) Supplier industries The success of the “Haute Couture” industry is also due to the success of the supplier industry. What does a “Haute Couture” house need to prosper? [...]
[...] COMPETITIVE ADVANTAGE OF FRANCE IN HAUTE COUTURE Indicators of competitiveness Paris First of all, Paris has really strong importance in the “Haute Couture” history. It is the birthplace (in 1858) of the concept of luxury fashion. Thus, the “Haute Couture” image will always be linked to the city. Moreover, Haute Couture benefits from the Paris renown around the world. The city's image is a strong advantage; it is the appellation “made in Paris” (or else in France), which confers a quality and a label of elegance to brands. [...]
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