Welcome Australia, to the 21st Century…

It took us a while, but finally Zara has landed on our shores, though not my shore. I have to wait till June.  Even countries with developing economies such as Turkey, Honduras, Malaysia and Kuwait have access to Zara.  When traveling I would buy up on Zara and a friend of mine once asked “don’t you have Zara in Australia?” “Nope”, to which he quipped “what kind of backwards country do you live in?”  There was no point trying to defend my country, with our access to free health care, education and all the other important services that are integral to… living.

Zara opening in Sydney, 20 April 2011 (image:ninemsn.com.au)

What’s the big deal about Zara? The size!  Some fast facts include:

  • Sells 700 million units globally (I think I bought 5 units last year)
  • Employs 100,000 people, including 250 womenswear designers specifically for the northern hemisphere (imagine trying to manage that human resource section)
  • In 2009, Zara sales were worth €7,077 million
  • There are 5,000 Zara stores, compared to Country Road’s approximately 56 stores (excluding spaces Myer, DJ and factory outlets).
  • Spends almost nothing on advertising (most fashion brands factor in a minimum of 4% of turnover a year)
  • 60% is still family owned making the 75 year old founder, Amancio Ortega the nineth richest man in the world.

Amancio Ortega | image: Elmundo

Who? Amancio Ortega. He founded a clothing manufacturing business around 1960s and opened his first shop in 1975 in La Coruna, Spain and called it Zorba! Yes, as in Zorba the Greek. Thankfully (because I don’t think ladies would shop at a place called Zorba), there was a nearby bar with the same name and on insistence by the bar owner, Mr Ortega agreed to change its name.  But because three-dimensional storefront lettering moulds were expensive, Mr Ortega needed a name which could be made by the existing moulds.  So he repeated the letter a and Zara was born.  It works brilliantly because its pronounced the same way in every language, but one.  Can you figure which language?

There is no Zara ‘style’ but a multitude of styles, usually copied from high-end fashion labels (there’s usually something for everybody).  Before the internet put every style on instant view, the company used to send teams around the world with a shopping spend that was legendary (and you thought you loved your job).  Apparently, one French fashion label used to factor in the Zara spend into their profit forcast. They didn’t mind, Zara is for the masses.

I had a browse on zara.com and I’m liking these looks for April.

It’s not my usual style, but I’m liking the sleek look at the moment.  And I’m obsessed with finding the purfect pair of pants.   Zara is famous for its quick turnaround time, from factory to floor in 48 hours.  Zara stores order twice a week and if a look doesn’t sell, it’s pulled.  With that in mind, I don’t hold my breath that the above looks will still be in stores when Zara opens in Melbourne, however I have no doubt, the store will be stocking something else I’ll want.

So, what do you think about Zara opening stores in Australia? Are you a fan?
Stay tuned for an alternative point of view on Zara.

NOTE: Unfortunately the above knowledge was not my own researching, but that of Marion Hume from the Australian Financial Review, published on 25 March 2011. Who would’ve thought that the AFR would have interesting articles on fashion!


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