In the past, designer clothing was way beyond the reach of the masses - it was considered haute couture, and designer collections were only seen on catwalks and clothing made-to-order for only a select few. The general public could only view these pieces of clothing either in fashion magazines or on TV when worn by movie stars on the red carpet.
In the 1950's, prêt-a-porter clothing came into western fashion and proposed an alternative to haute couture for the general public. Prêt-a-porter (ready-to-wear) clothing provides the public with high-end clothing (a cross between haute couture and mass market) made in small quantities to guarantee exclusivity, but not made for individual clients. Ready-to-wear clothing is intended to be worn without significant alteration, and made in standard sizes that fit most people. Designers use standard patterns, factory equipment, and certain construction techniques that keep costs lower when compared to custom-sewn versions of the same item.
Prêt-a-porter collections are usually presented by fashion designers and fashion houses twice a year during Fashion Week. These shows anticipate what the next year's trends and styles are going to be. Collections are typically grouped in spring/summer, fall/winter, resort, swim, and bridal. Prêt-a-porter clothing designers make this clothing with above-average attention given to fabric choice, cut, and detail - clothing that will warrant having the name of a famous designer or a famous brand attached to it. This type of clothing is rather expensive and generally designed with the upper middle class in mind, and can be found in certain stores that carry designer names and brands.