The New York Times recently ran a piece entitled "How Zara Grew Into the World’s Largest Fashion Retailer," discussing how Zara got to be so huge and how its parent co., Inditex, makes 840 million garments a year. I am feeling tired (even bothered) by the truly unreasonable amount of attention paid to fast-fashion and designer collaborations BUT this article HAS to be addressed. Here are some of my favorite excerpts and my italicized comments after a couple because I just couldn't help myself.
On Zara's "designers" & how the brand avoids lawsuits, Suzy Hansen writes: Zara’s designers are completely anonymous; some would say this is because they are copiers rather than designers ... Inditex denies that it copies other designers ... Christian Louboutin took Inditex to court for selling the company’s signature red-soled shoes but lost, mainly because Inditex takes care to change its designs just enough to evade copyright laws.
TFL - This last sentence is almost completely inaccurate. Louboutin lost its suit against Zara due to a trademark technicality. Further, Zara is able to avoid copyright lawsuits (in the U.S., at least) because the U.S. law provides an extremely limited amount of copyright protection to fashion designs. Moving right along...
On why copying is ok, according to Masoud Golsorkhi: “To the luxury brands, they are copycats,” Golsorkhi (the editor of Tank, a London magazine about culture and fashion, and a consultant for fashion brands) says. “I was of the same mind myself, but I have grown out of that because I realize that the fashion companies also copy each other. In the end, no one’s original.”
TFL - Hmm ... So, two wrongs makes a right? What Golsorkhi fails to distinguish between here is inspiration and imitation. Often, high fashion houses are inspired by one another (and there are instances of blatant imitation), but such copying is far more commonly employed by the fast fashion retailers.
On how middle-America sucks, according to José Luis Nueno: "The U.S. is really complex because it’s about putting stores in shopping malls in the middle of nowhere. Fashionistas live on the East and West coasts. Then everyone else dresses in the Gap and Walmart and T. J. Maxx,” says José Luis Nueno, a professor of marketing at I.E.S.E. Business School in Madrid.
On how Americans are fat, says Columbia professor Nelson Fraiman: “Would you expand in the United States?” Nelson Fraiman (a professor at Columbia Business School) asks. “Zara to me is a European store for European style; it’s very fashion forward. And what is the problem in America? They don’t fit in the clothes. So why do it? Having to make larger sizes makes production so much more complex.”
On how Zara has ruined fashion: Inditex is a pioneer among “fast fashion” companies, which essentially imitate the latest fashions and speed their cheaper versions into stores ... The trendiest items are made closest to home, so that the production process, from start to finish, takes only two to three weeks ... In Zara, every purchase is an impulse buy; there’s no longer any saving up for that gorgeous leather jacket in the window. You are buying clothes not because you love them, but because, at $50, those hot pants are as cheap as Sunday brunch for two — and likely to be gone in a matter of days. It’s a way of consumption that has conditioned buyers to expect this up-to-the-minute trendiness and variety in higher-end labels as well. - writes Suzy Hansen