Browsing Time: ZARA

18 Jun

I was in a group interview situation this week (more about that another day!) with about 20 other high street VMs from London and a discussion was initiated about who we thought provides the leading Visuals on the high street… I was a little surprised to hear most of them say Zara. Windows? Of course they’re everyone’s favourite. But in-store, really? Clearly I need to be educated in the phenomenon of Zara.

Above are some examples of the Oxford St Zaras’ windows so far this year. All are fun, colourful, attention grabbing: the sort of windows high street brands should be creating. It frustrates me slightly that the windows, so quirky and full of personality, aren’t reflected inside the stores’ sparse interiors.

 The interior of the stores, which sort of remind me of a bedroom in a show home, tie together a small number of pieces to build an outfit – including shoes and jersey layers on a table in front (which is often a dishevelled heap.) The way they bring everything together for may seem like a commercial slum-dunk but as shoppers of all ages become more and more style savvy through blogs, free newspapers and celebrity culture, it becomes patronising and tiresome to suggest that a shopper may like to purchase a look wholesale right down to the shoes and bracelet.  The way the stores often drift into Sale or Childrenswear at the back with no distinct differentiation from the main lines is also incredibly confusing.

The reserved maturity of its sister company Massimo Dutti has clearly been the key influence on Zara’s  interiors.  For the older target market of that store, I think their retail design concept is bang on: the stores seem to drip with luxury.  On the whole though, the Zara product, though sophisticated, is younger, and I’d love to see Zara create a stronger distinction from its older sister, without drifting into the nightclub territory of Bershka. Why can’t the interior ‘wardrobe’ walls be colourful?  Different coloured corners of the shop for different trends? What about patterned flooring? Less sterile lighting at least? If the magic of the windows could trickle inside the store just a little, the excitement wouldn’t be left at the door.

So, do you agree with the assertion that Zara provides the best visuals on the high street?

Further reading:

Mary Portas’ experience of Zara – the Telegraph

How Zara has upped the stakes for fast Fashion – Harvard University

Zara post 10% profit boost in profits – Evening Standard

The Secrets of Zara’s Success – the Telegraph

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