As a fashion journalist, it’s a rare treat to be introduced to members of Zara’s head office team. Who are these formidably clever people, driving one of the most revered fashion retailers in the world?
Zara is notoriously low-key when it comes to the press, so I jumped at the chance to meet the team at a press preview of Zara’s new-format store in London’s Marble Arch.
The store itself is modelled on the new design unveiled in New York in the spring, and it works well here in London. In particular, I liked the merchandising technique of segmenting product by trend or story into square-like spaces (like changing rooms, according to Zara) – it makes for easy browsing and shopping. The store was also less cluttered, with less product on the shopfloor, creating a more boutique-like experience.
But, as I said, meeting the team behind the powerhouse that is Zara, was the highlight for me. Monica Garcia, regional manager for menswear, gave me a detailed tour of the menswear basement floor, pulling out best sellers, including some surprise pieces, like a studded denim waistcoat. “We had to repeat it. Men are getting more adventurous,” she told me, adding that the menswear business is growing. “Suiting is getting more risky, more edgy, with men choosing to wear it with knits instead of shirts, and knitted instead of silk ties. We’re seeing a lot of men wearing parkas over their suits.”
Back on the ground floor, which houses womenswear, and the equally patient Sandra Sanchi, head of womenswear, tells me about the flexibility that their two-weekly drops affords them. They trialled the brocade trend with one drop of trousers, but soon found the product to be a strong seller. “We did the same with velvet, so now we have blazers and dresses,” she explains, adding that the store’s new front-facing, rather than side-facing displays will really help to drive sales.
And I agree. It’s a good shop fit - nothing fussy, just clear merchandising - housing some of the best product on the high street.
Ana Santi, deputy editor, Drapers