From Design to Wardrobe – The 30 Day Zara Journey


            The fashion world is dynamic and constantly changing industry. What is in today may not be in tomorrow. What is a fashion faux pau last season could be the new hottest thing in the coming season. As a result, some items and trends might be outdated before they even make it to the shelf because it can take so long bring an item or trend to market. This is what makes Zara different from its competitors. Zara can take something from its design phase to mass distribution to its thousands of stores in as little as four to five weeks. This crazy fast turnaround time is one of the keys to Zara’s success and has made the founder the 3rd richest man in the world.

Zara starts by understanding, not predicting, fashion trends in order to deliver what the customer wants instead of trying to be the innovators. After understanding the trends and what their customers want, they imitate the products of their competitors, send the designs to their many manufacturing facilities located primarily in Europe but also in Asia, and deliver the finished products to their stores twice a week. In addition, Zara designs apparel in five waves each season to avoid overlap in the changing seasons. Zara depends on information form it thousands of stores to determine which items customers’ love and which ones flopped. The ones that remain hot, Zara will continue to produce for a while until they fallout of favor while they cease production almost immediately of items consumers are not picking up on. This line of communication between the stores and HQ ensures that the customers decided demand and supply.

At their core, Zara was built around this concept of giving the customer what they want and this integrated model and line of communication between the stores and the design team is essential to maintain this. If there is a correction that needs to be made to an item in production, the stores communicate this to HQ and a corrected item is on the shelves in two weeks. This is done by what Zara calls proximity sourcing. The production centers for highly volatile fashion items like skirts and blouses are in Spain and other parts of Europe in order to keep up with the changes in fashion while production for other items like t-shirts occurs in Asia since changes do not occur as rapidly. These aspects of Zara make it one of the most unique fashion retailers and one of the best positioned ones to answer customers needs in an constantly changing environment.

Do you know of a company that has such a fast turnaround? If not, can you think of a company that should follow Zara’s steps? What do you think of Zara’s strategies?


8 thoughts on “From Design to Wardrobe – The 30 Day Zara Journey

  1. Personally, I don’t know other companies with such fast turnaround rate but that isn’t a topic I am as educated on. H&M, I think, does something similar to Zara, as I know they are usually very up-to-date on their fashion trends, as well. I think many clothing stores could benefit from this model. The only thing to be weary of as consumers is working conditions for the people that manufacture all of Zara’s items. With such fast turnaround it is important to make sure that workers are being treated fairly and ethically.

    I think this model is great and can lead to a lot of success in such a fast-paced consumer environment. I’m not sure if Zara’s manufacturing practices are ethical or not but that would be one thing to look into, since they are turning out clothes so quickly!

  2. I don’t know of companies and their turnaround rates, but I am impressed by Zara. I am a frequent shopper there and have wondered before how they have such an updated fashion trend, constantly. Maybe this turnaround rate could be adopted by Loft, Ann Taylor, J Crew and other alike store that have a little higher end quality products but still very youthful and fun styles. I think it is great that Zara has good communication channels, because we (customers) can really see the difference.

  3. I am not completely sure about what companies have fast turnaround rate, but I do know in order to keep a float in the fashion industry you have to be on top of the changes. Im assuming companies or retailers like Nordstrom have a fast turn around rate and you can definitely tell because their Nordstrom Rack store is always packed with last seasons styles.
    However I am indeed impressed with Zara. It takes a lot of strategic planning and understanding to be successful in this industry. Zara’s model would be a great one for companies that are just starting or companies that have had low sales.

  4. Personally I do not know any stores that have such a turnaround rate like Zara. Yet i think there could be other companies that will integrate these type of operations into their own businesses. I think Zara has a great strategy for its business. They are mainly focused on the customer’s needs and do a great job fulfilling them in their design, distribution, production and sales stages. The company’s mission statement also includes being sustainable, and they have done that through the types of fabrics they use, and their eco-friendly store design. I think that is another company strategy and an advantage.

  5. This post was very interesting. I did not know that was how Zara designed their manufacturing process in order to keep up with trends. I am a huge fan of Zara, not only for their trendy items but also for the quality of their products. I think more clothing lines should focus on quality along with trends. On one to many occasions I have bought a piece of clothing and had it rip or tear without any normal wear and tear.

  6. I know that other companies such as Forever 21, H&M, and Topshop follow the same model, but I do not know if they have that fast of a turnaround. I like Zara because of slightly better quality than H&M and because I wouldn’t want to spend 1500 on a pair of Biker Jeans from oversea designers. Their business model is pretty impressive and I think they will continue to strive as people always want the new pieces and designs domestically before everyone else.

  7. Zara will continue to be in business because people need inexpensive and trendy clothes. They are not a high quality store and anyone that shops there knows it. You don’t buy at zara or H&M for its quality but because it is inexpensive and they mimic other high end designers. I personally do not like to regularly visit those stores because the clothes are not meant to last. The business is sound and will continue to flourish by copying other peoples styles and that is what doesn’t sit well with me.

  8. I think that most fashion companies today that are marketed to the average consumer can boast this kind of turnaround rate. Look at H&M, Topshop, Forever 21, Allsaints, Asos, River Island, etc. It’s their job to keep up with the trends at all times. But what you said that interests me about Zara is that instead of predicting trends they understand them. This is something that seems simple but is hard to do because as well as knowing what is on trend you have to really know your customer beyond just what they want to wear. You’d have to know what kind of experience they’re looking for when they wear your clothes. Which is something that more of a high fashion brand would focus on. That in combination with their quick turnaround is what could make them a leading company.

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