The Cosmetic Ultralounge

Hierarchy of Fashion Needs

By Gunner Glam

Not all apparel is alike. Fashion professionals generally use these categories to identify different markets. Studio Brow is passionate about people looking and feeling their best all the time.

According to Vault, the career guide to fashion is as follows:

Haute couture

Haute couture is often considered the pinnacle of designer clothing. Its origins can be traced to Paris over 150 years ago. Haute couture involves craftsmanship, the skill of the dressmakers and embellishers (feather makers, embroiderers, milliners) who create the finery of the exceptional. It is tailored and carefully produced for each client. Although couture apparel is seen almost exclusively on the supremely wealthy or on the runway, designers of haute couture influence all levels of the fashion industry. There are only eighteen houses of haute couture in France today since requirements are stringent: Balmain, Pierre Cardin, Carven, Chanel, Christian Dior, Givenchy, Lecoanet Henant, Christian Lacroix, Lapidus, Guy Laroche, Hanae Mori, Paco Rabanne, Nina Ricci, Yves Saint Laurent, Jean-Louis Scherrer, Torrente and Emanuel Ungaro. Prices generally range from $16,000 to $20,000 for a woman’s tailored suit to $60,000 and up for an evening gown.


Designer is the step down from couture. While not as exorbitantly priced as couture, designer apparel is nevertheless still expensive. Designer clothing is sold in specialty stores, department stores and boutiques — almost everywhere. Some prominent designers are Anna Sui, Dolce & Gabbana, Giorgio Armani, Hugo Boss and Junya Watanabe.


Bridge is the step down from designer fashions. This apparel is generally much more affordable and available at better department stores. Although several steps down from fashion’s pinnacle, bridgewear is nevertheless considered more exclusive than “better” clothing. Top designers such as Donna Karan and Calvin Klein knock themselves off to produce very popular bridgewear lines such as DKNY and CK.


Nationally recognized brand names, such as Liz Claiborne, Ann Taylor, or Nordstrom’s private label. Customers usually expect a particular image, quality, or price point from a better brand.


Moderate describes many nationally known sportswear brands or lower priced “better” national brands. Examples of moderate brands include Dockers, Limited and The Gap.


Budget falls into the least expensive category. Many brands include private labels for discount merchants, such as Jaclyn Smith or Kathy Ireland (for K-Mart house brands). Old Navy is one of the most prominent budget brands.


-More coming soon from Studio Brow-

38 responses

  1. Brilliant and a very unique piece. Interesting reading, thank you for sharing. I look forward to checking in again!

    February 10, 2012 at 3:50 PM

  2. I may be speaking from someone out of the Moderate-Better range (with the occasional Designer item), and I understand that fashion sells itself, but for all practical purposes, why does anyone need to spend tens of thousands of dollars on ONE item of clothing? Of course, I may be forgetting that the people that can afford it are rolling in riches… Still, isn’t there a more practical use for all that dough?

    Don’t get me wrong, I still love my brands! Just want to know what everyone thinks πŸ™‚

    February 10, 2012 at 3:52 PM

    • I can’t speak to the “other side” of this issue (once I had something Designer–it was a gift, which I kept for a year on that basis, even though it was too small), but I’d just like to say . . . I’ve often wondered this very same thing.

      February 10, 2012 at 8:43 PM

  3. straightofftherunway

    Definitely just learned about this in Psych. Great comparison, it’s so true too!

    February 10, 2012 at 4:09 PM

  4. My Style Workshop

    I like the pyramid! LOL! Going to reblog. Thanks!

    February 10, 2012 at 4:50 PM

  5. My Style Workshop

    Reblogged this on Julie Lange: My Style Workshop.

    February 10, 2012 at 4:50 PM

    • My Style Workshop

      Hmmm…when I reblogged, some of the article was cut off. Thoughts? The learning curve is steep! Thanks for good info and thanks for following!

      February 10, 2012 at 5:02 PM

      • Hmm, I suppose it shows part of the article and the link will send them to the rest of it. Not entirely sure. But thank you very, very much for reblogging it does mean a lot.

        February 10, 2012 at 5:13 PM

  6. Thanks for the informative article on fashion levels. Jay

    February 10, 2012 at 5:18 PM

  7. Reblogged this on sppasm.

    February 10, 2012 at 5:38 PM

  8. I think I am more to “Esteem” type of person πŸ™‚ I think the day I wear a Carven or a Dries Van Noten, i’ll be super productive on that day πŸ™‚ cheers!

    February 10, 2012 at 6:56 PM

  9. Pyramid = hilarious. And awesome.

    You may have done this already, but I’d be curious to read a post about thrift store styles. I feel like (while admitting that the offerings at such “boutiques” vary based on area demographic) the thrift store is kind of an equaliser to the above categories, and you can pull off a pretty high-fashion look with thrift store clothing, but you have to be good at it (like a college roommate I had, and not like me)–it’s more about skill than branding and associations and price tags. Don’t you think?

    Also, thanks for visiting my blog! Please do so any time! (Comments are also well-loved. πŸ™‚ )

    February 10, 2012 at 8:48 PM

    • Awesome! Thank you very much for the feedback, Jenn. That does sound like an interesting blog idea.

      February 11, 2012 at 1:16 AM

      • Ya know . . . maybe we could tag-team it. πŸ™‚

        February 11, 2012 at 2:10 PM

      • Cool, let me know what you would like to do.

        February 11, 2012 at 7:56 PM

      • Let me think about that a little–and if you have any ideas, feel free to let me know.

        February 11, 2012 at 8:12 PM

  10. Love the pyramid of “need” – nice little psych 101 lesson and very apropos as psychology + fashion are absolutely inter-related. Which Versace piece[es] made you “self-actualized”? I still crave some Medusa jewelry of theirs!

    February 11, 2012 at 1:15 PM

    • Awesome stuff =) Thank you for your feedback.

      February 11, 2012 at 7:56 PM

      • Just looked it up – it’s Abraham Maslow’s “hierarchy of human needs”. In my book, Versace is a necessity – ha! Are you at NYFW? Would love to meet you. I’m there tomorrow, Sunday, and then again on Wed.

        February 12, 2012 at 12:39 AM

      • Unfortunately, we will not be in attendance. However, I hope it is amazing and have an excellent time!

        February 12, 2012 at 3:52 AM

      • Thx, maybe in Sept. So far, the colors are very muted. Let’s see what today brings : )

        February 12, 2012 at 2:00 PM

      • Sounds great!

        February 12, 2012 at 9:43 PM

      • Saw amazing fashion – the crowd, the vibe and Daphne Guinness’s McQueen couture dress at her premiere last night at “The Legend of Lady White Snake” at the Angel Orrensanz Foundation for Contemporary Art way downtown in Alphabet City NYC – so cool – like the Eighties New York I loved!

        February 13, 2012 at 7:05 PM

      • That sounds amazing! Really must have been an excellent time. Post some photos if you get a chance.

        February 13, 2012 at 7:18 PM

  11. So true, this post!

    My fav designers? By Country: Italy-Armani France-Chanel US-Ralph Lauren. I recently went to Milan during fall fashion week and went into the “Temple of Armani” I just had to touch everything! I wrote an article on my blog about it “D and the Temple of Armani”

    Cheers! ~ D

    February 11, 2012 at 8:44 PM

  12. Hello dear, you are loved, congratulations! I nominated you for the Liebster blog Award. Check it out here:
    Enjoy and have fun πŸ™‚

    February 13, 2012 at 4:06 PM

  13. Loved the fashion hierarchy of needs! Right now I’m at the I have clothes level cost wise (although people always love my shoes!) but I am a thrift shop connoisseur. I have found some great pieces by awesome designers for next to nothing, and have been putting together bits and pieces to make killer non-designer ensembles as well. Plus it helps that I have a seamstress in the family who can make pretty much anything πŸ™‚

    February 13, 2012 at 4:39 PM

    • Glad you are following our blog and enjoyed reading the post. WordPress is a great source to get information and thought and opinions on the web. Looking forward to more of your excellent posts! =)

      February 13, 2012 at 4:48 PM

  14. Great post! Wonderful information!

    February 23, 2012 at 12:31 AM

  15. I like the picture! Story of my life, hope I can get to the top of the pyramid one day (probably won’t happen.)

    February 23, 2012 at 4:33 AM

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