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.