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Fast fashion from La Coruña to Bershka, Mango and Zara

Inditex group has built on the global success of Zara and its fast fashion, to develop a range of retail brands that carefully target adjacent market segments with distinctive and relevant fashions. As markets and trends evolve the portfolio gives the group strength and agility.

Amancio Ortega likes to say “fashion is like selling fish”. Fresh fish, like a freshly cut jacket in the latest colour sells quickly at a high price. An old catch has to be discounted or thrown away. “Selling fish” has made Inditex one of the world’s largest clothing retailers. From the first Zara store in the Spanish fishing port of La Coruña, opened in 1975, Ortego has added almost a hundred companies designing, making, and distributing the latest fashions. It has made him the richest man in Spain, and third in the world. With 6200 stores worldwide, and brands ranging from Bershka to Pull and Bear, Mango and Zara.

Zara achieves speed and efficiency through an integrated system of design, production, logistics and distribution which also keeps stock minimal, and store range evolves almost weekly. Employees also convey a continuous flow of shopper information, what they try and buy, and why they don’t. The 200 person creative team each have direct links to a store around the world to ensure insights are captured directly and quickly, and the brand anticipates and responds to the latest trend.

Whilst competitors make clothes in distant low-cost markets, Inditex values the speed and proximity of Spain, Portugal and Morocco. New designs arrive every three days in stores, often in the same week as similar designs appear in magazines or fashion shows. They sell out quickly, usually at full price, and consumers come back weekly to see what’s new.

However Inditex’s centralised structure, now controlled from The Cube head office in Arteixo, a small fishing town in northwest Spain, is both a strength in Europe and weakness in other parts of the world. Whilst a $324m Fifth Avenue flagship store has been successful in New York, Zara with its tight slim-fit has struggled in other parts of USA. China is now the second largest market with over 150 stores. Fast, yet standardised fashions, work less well around the world.

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