Whether you want to work in the fashion industry, or you are just someone passionate about fashion, it is important to know fashion terms. From the most common terms that you read in fashion magazines and books – to the most specific ones used by fashion designers, journalists, or other professionals, – the more you know – the better!

Getting familiar with fashion terminology CMD368 can help you learn the fashion industry fundamentals and navigate the vocabulary used in the industry. When you read or hear something related to fashion, it is so easy to get lost in the fashion jargon. So knowing it allows you to better understand the context in which it is used.

Maybe you are preparing for an interview with a fashion company and you want to look professional to the recruiter by using the correct industry terms? Or you are studying to learn about the industry? Then it is worth learning some of the most common fashion words.

Fashion Terms to Know

Ready-to-wear (prêt-à-porter)

If you follow fashion weeks, you might have noticed that brands use the term Ready-to-wear for the new collections: Fall/Winter Ready-to-wear and Spring/Summer Ready-to-wear. But have you ever asked yourself what technically the term Ready-to-wear means? If we take it word by word Ready-to-wear means that the product is something we can purchase and wear immediately. In fact Ready-to-wear, or Prêt-à-porter in French, is the term used for collections that are:

1. mass-produced by factories

2. according to standardized sizes (for instance, from XS- XXXL)

3. sold in a finished state.

Most of the clothes we buy are ready-to-wear. Contrary to the Haute Couture collections that we explain below, which are custom-made and hand-made so not mass-produced and without standard sizes, like a ready-to-wear collection. The majority of fashion brands are ready-to-wear. Only a few in fact have an haute couture line because the latter has to respect some strict rules.

Haute Couture

Haute Couture is a division of the fashion industry organized by the trade association named the Fédération de la Haute Couture (formerly the Chambre Syndicale de la Couture). In Haute Couture, High fashion Houses produce two collections a year and then make customized versions of the designs in the collection for individual clients according to their specific measurements. Haute Couture collections are the most prestigious and luxurious that exist in the fashion industry. The materials are precious, everything is studied in detail. And it takes about 200-500 hours or even more to create one of these custom-made garments.

Cruise collection 

A Cruise – also known as Resort – collection is a mid-season collection that brands show between two main seasons – Spring/Summer and Fall/Winter. May and June are the two months we see Cruise Shows hit the catwalks. They originally started with the purpose of serving wealthy cruise guests who would go on vacation and needed a whole new, mid-season wardrobe to travel to other climates globally. Resort collections usually comprise relaxed silhouettes, lightweight fabrics, and statement swimsuits.


“Atelier” is a term that refers to the workroom of a fashion company where design, pattern making, and fittings often take place. It is most often used to refer to the work side of Couture Houses.

Diffusion line

A diffusion line is a line of products that is visually related to the main product of a company in some manner of design but is usually sold at a lower price point and under a different label to reach consumers with a lower purchasing power. For example, Versace is the main product line and Versus is the company’s diffusion line.


“Trend” is a popular word used in the fashion industry. It’s used by industry insiders but it’s also used by anyone when talking about fashion. A trend refers to a particular product, style, color, silhouette, fabric, or pattern that becomes popular in a specific period of time. And by popular we mean that the majority of people adopt, imitate, or replicate a particular style.

The concept of the trend started in the 14th century when the upper echelons of society demonstrated their social position and wealth also by how often they could change their looks.

Fashion trends go through a five-stage life cycle from introduction when the trend is spotted for the first time, to rise when it becomes popular, up to obsolescence when it’s no longer trending.


To put it simply, FADs are trends but shorter. It is the correct industry term to describe a trend that is particularly short, as the latter cannot be called a “trend” or a “micro-trend”. It refers to a product, style, color, silhouette, fabric, or pattern that lasts just a couple of weeks, months, or one season.

You might have noticed that something in the wardrobe of your parents is now trending again as well. Or that something you bought years ago but that you haven’t worn for years, is now something you want to wear again: that is a fad. The perfect example is the Nylon bag of Prada. Initially launched in 1984, it became obsolete and recently popular again.