From its humble, and socially suspect beginnings in the 1700s, the ready to wear trade has steadily gained ground until today it is one of the largest, and most powerful industries in the world, employing literally tens of millions of people, either directly or indirectly, on almost all continents.
When it began, it seemed a bright idea, bringing well made clothing to people who could not afford to have things made for them. It started with items like capes, cloaks, and wraps, since they required no fitting. But over time, and especially once the concept of graded sizes of dependable measures developed, ready to wear expanded into every aspect of the Attire world. By the beginning of the 20th century, there was virtually nothing apparel related that could not be gotten in a ready to wear emporium somewhere.
The desire on the part of manufacturers to get as much product to as many as possible, maximizing the scope of their business, meant that most of them resorted to ever cheaper, and more badly treated labor; working in conditions that were life threatening. They also commonly used sub-standard materials, notions, and finishing. So more and more clothing emerged into the market that was shoddy, shoddy, shoddy. The dominance of companies like H&M, Forever 21, Urban Outfitter and others, floods the world with clothing that was made in highly suspect ways. And the only thing the customer gets out of it that is a final positive, is the pricepoint. The fit, finish and long term survivability of these clothes are all negatives.
The other serious negative is that, because we now live in a world where all clothing is produced in an arbitrary range of standard sizes, there is more pressure than ever to fit into one of them. So endless numbers of people berate themselves quietly for not fitting into the latest thing, when it should be the other way around. The clothes should be made to fit us. So we have a world full of people, with only a tiny portion of them capable of really having clothing that fits. Very few have perfect standard size frames. Even runways models vary this way and that.
So this really is a double edged thing, this ready to wear industry. On the one hand, more people have clothes to wear. On the other, those clothes have got a second price tag that is hidden in the seams.