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Is Zara All That?

Posted by: David Kiley on December 28, 2004

Over the course of three weeks, three different CEOs that visited our offices said that the company that got their attention in recent months was Zara. Those CEos were from apparel, coffee and supermarket industries. That got my attention.

So, I finally went to the 34th Street store to see what the fuss was about. It happens to be across the street from a Gap store. The first thing I noticed was that the ladies’ winter coats at Zara looked like they fell out of my Grandmother’s closet. I know young people are into thrift stores (I would be too if they carried more of my size), but I was taken aback by the fact that these coats looked like they had been plucked from a Vintage Clothing store. Could it be that 20 year old women really want to look like “Gram” Gray. I think I have a mink wrap with the heads and paws still attached if they want to go all the way. The Zara tags were in English and Spanish, owing to Zara’s Spanish roots.

I don’t know what I expected, but most of the items, except for the ladies’ winter coats, had a very timeless, classic look without looking too trendy. And prices seemed comparable to The Gap. I walked across the street to The Gap to check it out. I saw many of the same stripe patterns in the Gap tops as I had seen at Zara. Many of the pants looked the same too. Scarves? Check. Turtlenecks? Ditto. The Gap line was some 20 deep at the registers. At Zara, it was about 5. Yet Zara is looking better to the CEOs than The Gap. Zara was a bit less cluttered than Gap. Shoppers I interviewed at Zara assured me that their store was hipper and more sylish than The Gap. At least that’s their perception. And, hey, this is marketing. Perception is reality. Pretend you heard that phrase here first.

Reader Comments


December 15, 2005 10:19 PM

There is no way to compare Gap to Zara. Gap is for highschoolers and college students. Zara is timeless, classic, chich and unique. Yes, their coats are a bit... old fashioned, but that is what makes them so special.

Thumbs up for Zara, wish they had a store in the Bay Area :(


March 29, 2006 9:57 AM

How dare you compare ZARA to GAP!!!. Is like comparing Ambient Music with POP music. Or comparing Olive Garden with Burger King. GAP is close to go to the mall or to go to school. ZARA is trendy-classic to go to clubs or to go to work. close that fits you like a glove. I think you need to go and take a look at it again pal. You might not be able to try anything on though, all they carry is for slim people. I'm sure that if you were able to try their clothen on, you would totally change your opinion.


December 26, 2006 6:05 PM

I must admit, I've never been to a Zara store in the states, but I fell in love with Zara when I was studying in Spain. I would definantly say that Zara and Gap are very different, and I would like to point out, that to anyone not into fashion, a pair of jeans from Walmart is just as good as a pair of jeans from Express. Zara is very nice, and I would say it even has a wider selection than Gap, although in the States, Gap is a lot easier to find than Zara. I can understand why Zara looks better to CEOs than Gap, as far as I know Zara is a younger company, and at least in Spain, they don't advertize. The only advertizing that I saw were the shopping bags that everyone carried around. Zara is growing, and growing fast with tons of potential.

alexandre bowles-hepplewhyte

January 22, 2007 7:25 PM

perhaps the price range between gap and zara are slightly comparable, however, gap has a very "disposable" range, i have to say im not too keen on their designs, in fact, i dont own any gap apparel. i do browse at times at the shops here in edinburgh,there is a difference between gap and zara items. yes, zara achieves a very chic european look however their sizes are a bit odd (the shop lady told me once that they dont have small, their small is medium??).
i believe the designers of zara are "influenced" by the creations of prada but their price-range is mega-watt different.
yes zara, doesn't advertise, very sublime, very european. gap, well its american, henceforth, over-rated, over-exposed, over-used.
zara is the answer to fashionistas with a limited budget. prices are reasonable, not cheap..


January 23, 2007 4:31 PM

Zara is such an awesome store! I've been to it in Spain, France and in Portugal to various ones and every single store had different merchandise. That is what makes them a fast fashion business. So many stores in Europe and all different styles in their stores. I love Zara so much that I wish they'd have one in Boston! Id be there everyday. I wouldn't put Zara down like that for their "old fashioned" look. Its not just Zara who has the old fashioned look. It is IN now, everywhere even Gap with their skinny jeans look and all. All I gotta say is Zara is awesome!

Al Rassell

January 25, 2007 1:57 PM

Mr. David

What is going on with GAP? Is the company for sale? INDITEX the parent of ZARA is incrising sales and profits more than a 20% every year and is because is listening to the customer. Are you an expert in marketing?. I do not think that.


March 22, 2007 12:22 PM

Quality wise the clothing in Gap is better than Zara. The pricing is very similar but the fit in Zara is much better. Besides the fact that Zara is classic, its sexy, fashionable and there's always new styles, fabric and colours. Gap is reliable like M&S, and Espirit but doesn't have a full range like Zara. For me Gap is a little old school with the fashion and there's never anything that makes you want to buy. And I'm 30 so its not like I don't have any cash!


April 14, 2007 6:09 PM

I don't know, what exactly is GAP about, because I really take no notice to things like these, actually. It's a supermarket kind of. Only that I catched with a corner of an eye is that GAP is like a "no style" cheap taste ordinary things made just-in-time, too plain and ordinary


April 14, 2007 6:22 PM

Further about GAP - there's no fashion, unfortuantely.. (to know, what I'm saying, I not only remember, what clothes I noticed some time ago, but also checked their site, well... no big thing and ) - it's like a supermarket, where one can find anything "paper-like" (we say a car, a bike is "from paper", when we want to say, that it's made very passingly or from cheap material or just for big sales and circulation). I think, GAP is for boring people, though I don't wnat to insult anybody or the firm, but that's how it looks like... So comparing all that with's like comparing a supermarket with a stylish vintage mellow seasoned matured ripe generous and rich clothing and it's store, not "like", but it is. That's what Zara is all about... I liked it from the first glance..... :)

sharon taylor

May 24, 2007 7:17 PM

Are tehere any Zara stores in the U.S.? I have been to them in the U.K. France and most recently in Budapest.I love teh clothes!!! I live in Dallas, Texas-- any store near me??

Thank You--


November 29, 2007 5:26 PM

Love,love,love Zara stores! The designs are putting fashion back into the world the unisex has to go and feminine style needs to come back. Wish there were more in the states and it was easier to find them here. xoxoxxo


February 18, 2008 9:27 PM

fyi to the author of this article, you attribute zara's perceived advantage over gap to it's marketing? well, zara doesn't have a marketing campaign. they don't believe in marketing, they rely only on word of mouth....


March 3, 2008 9:47 PM

There is no way that you can compare Zara to the Gap. Personally I almost understand how you weren't impressed with Zara in the United States, it is very different from Europe. I am Portuguese and every summer I travel there, my first stop is at Zara and when I take a trip over the bridge to Spain, guess where I go... to Zara. The styles are so different in Europe, they are classic and sophisticated, yet hip and trendy. I must say I buy all my Zara clothes overseas, I look forward to my vacation so that I can go shopping there.


March 13, 2008 4:58 PM

Oh common! Zara's clothes are nothing like the GAP. Their coats are beautiful and classic, Zara takes chances on style and fit. The only thing that the GAP does is change the color or stripe pattern depending on the season. The GAP has overpriced crap. If you like something at Zara and you don't buy it immediately, it won't be around next week. The GAP has the same merchandise year round. The only thing these two stores have in common is that they both have spaces at the mall.


August 18, 2008 2:09 PM

There's a Zara in the Montgomery Mall in Bethesda, MD


November 10, 2008 1:32 PM

I went to Zara in Argentina and Italy were people LOVE fashion. Gap is just another sad store. I can not believe you couldn't catch the huge difference between them. I hope Zara will open more stores in USA.


November 23, 2008 12:21 AM

first of all zara is way better then the gap.hands down. sencond of all recently the inditex group(which zara pertains to) beat out the gap inc. as the largest retailer in the that just lets us know who is the better company


December 10, 2008 6:23 AM

I think the opinion of the article is totally different from comments, because the authour is a MAN. Women can feel Zara brings trend, stylish and fast fashion to US. It is a successful revolution. In US, Zara and H&M are my good friends, because they provide fashion clothes with affordable price. By contrast, GAP does't have the actual value of its clothes. In addtion, I think the authour is not a profession business man. He did't know trend and market. He did't know economy. He did't think and pay attention on points.(why these CEOs did?) The most important problem is that he did't search the information about Zara before he typed the article. The perception is nothing.


May 23, 2009 7:09 PM

Zara just opened a new store in Austin Texas, it's sooooo great!


July 10, 2009 12:48 AM

I'm Asian and I love Zara's clothes ;) They are very fashionable. Simple yet trendy. They always have new arrivals which attracts customers to go to their stores more often.

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News, opinions, inflammatory meanderings and occasional ravings about the world of advertising, marketing and media. By marketing editor Burt Helm, Innovation Editor Helen Walters, and senior correspondent Michael Arndt.

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