We’ve often talked about how when it comes to shopping, that the goal is quality over quantity. And yet every single time I walk by a Zara I am COMPELLED to walk through those doors and sample their slouchy pants, smart blazers, and bold (often animal) prints. Now, I’d rather be splurging on a few amazing pieces that I’d wear more often, but when a zebra print jumpsuit pops up in my email for $69 I feel like I MUST have it and so off to Zara I go…. often walking out with more than just the zebra print jumpsuit. Their recent move into online sales has made my problem even worse. Free shipping (usually arriving the very next day) and easy in-store returns. Those Zara people are cruel, cruel temptresses!
I’ve been trying to understand why it is that I find Zara so irresistible, and a recent Slate article actually shed some light on the situation: Zara manages its supply chain operations in a way that is nearly polar opposite from other competitors like Uniqlo, H&M, and the Gap. I will summarize. Those stores contract out most of their manufacturing to factories that they don’t own, resulting in about 80% of their designs are solidified six months in advance. This six month turnaround is actually the way most clothing companies operate, but not Zara! Zara keeps most production in-house at factories mostly located in their home country of Spain, which results in a design-to-store turnaround time of just 15 days. Remember last summer when Zara was nailing the color blocking trend while other stores didn’t really hop on board until much later? 15 day turnaround. After September 11th when Zara shifted its seasonal theme from equestrian to black? 15 day turnaround. Up to the minute trends in stores twice per week? 15 day turnaround. Zara still outsources production for the 15-20% of items that comprise the long-lead aspects of the collection, but for in-season production, it relies on high-quality local production paid to workers earning more than the Spanish minimum wage (bonus! you don’t have to feel guilty about wearing clothes that were likely made by people earning under $1 per hour), which is the reason behind the sometimes seemingly high cost (for the quality).
So now we know: Zara responds to consumer trends and desires at lightning speed making you want ALL THE THINGS RIGHT NOW with the added bonus of using far less sweatshop labor than pretty much any other competitor. Addiction = justified.
Nearly Impossible to Resist (for me at least).