Saturday, May 14, 2011

Zara - the Sydney store

The first Zara store in Australia opened in Sydney to the public, about a month ago, on 20 April 2011. Covering 1,4oo square metres in the Sydney CBD Westfield, over 3 floors with mens, womens & kids clothing, this store is changing the fashion landscape Down Under. Note the typical Zara store size is 900 square metres.

In its first week, there were queues to get in (about 1 hour), queues to try on in the change room (Max 10 items - how cool is that?? - another hour) & queues to pay (another hour again). There are even queues to get to the actual racks and touch the clothes! No joke!

This was the main entrance at the Pitt St mall on the Monday after opening....

Loan umbrellas for those waiting in the nice!

Well even a month after opening, the queues are so steady that Zara is willing to hold your prospective purchases until the end of the day, if you dont have time to wait because you are on a limited time lunch break. I likey this!

Jesus Echevarria, the Chief Communications Officer, (pictured here the day prior to the opening) was quoted this week as saying that the Sydney opening has been the most successful so far of anywhere in the world.

more quiet before the storm on the day prior to opening....

Now to this....bedlam....

Yesterday, I skipped the queues to get in - by avoiding the busiest womens & mens entrances, I got straight in via the kids floor.

Note to self for future: the kids floor in the basement is always the quietest entry point.
There was a 10 minute wait for the change room and a 20 minute wait for the register. This was on a Saturday at 3 pm. Wow!

Well it was bedlam - stuff flying literally couldnt swing a cat. Impressive. Exciting. Amazing. Long overdue.

If you love fashion - you gotta visit this store. Even if you walk away with one or two things - its an eye opening experience.

A typical Saturday at Sydney Zara....

And the best part - they re stock twice a week on Wednesday & Friday. That's right, new styles, twice a week. Both from the warehouse in Alexandria and the good 'ol head office in Spain. This product freshness and excitement is truly innovative in the Australian market.

But I'll let you in on a little a Zara stalker, what I noticed is that if something sells out within a week, it frequently re appears about a week & a half later (as they bring more from overseas). This is impressive - they are flexible enough to re stock the fast movers. This means they are listening to the customer & what they want.

Australia is the 78th country to become home to the brand, owned by Inditex which first opened in Spain in 1975. Most of the stock is made in European countries. I havent noticed anything in the Sydney store which is made in Asia as yet.

Some items are made specifically for Australia - these included some heels & some bags and were specifically numbered as special issue product.

This photo from insider retailing (shown on the left side) shows the special Made for Australia pumps with mock python accents

Shoe box lid for heels made specifically for Australia - shown to the right of the shoes in the above photo....

We are told that the Sydney store is stocked in line with the other stores in the southern hemisphere - like Brazil which is another large southern market.

What I have noticed, is that (apart from the Australia specific items & these are very limited), all our Sydney items are available via the Zara US web site. Every single one of them. The difference is that the US site has alot more items available, which arent available Down Under.

In the interests of full disclosure, I should mention the bad as well as the good. Having done some web research, I discovered that the US prices (including shipping) are about 30% less than the Australian price on an identical item. ggrrrrrr. Nevertheless, the prices as they stand are considerably cheaper than the current Sydney hi street (eg: Portmans, Witchery, Dotti, Supre, Sportsgirl, Sussan, Ojay etc). Typically a top costs 40, a dress 110, a jacket 110, pants or jeans 70.

This bootie sold out within a week of opening, but as of yesterday, new stock has arrived. It is AU199. On the US site its US139 excl shipping.

All the following items are in the store ATM. In some case I have only shown the USD price (from the web site) - I forgot to record the AU price in the assured, its not much more than quoted USD. Everything is a STEAL!

This striped top is US40 on the US web site.

This coloured sandal is USD109 - a bit more expensive in the Sydney store.

This butterfly top flew out the door of the Sydney store....its priced USD60 on the US site, its AU70 in store

This bootie is 159 in the Sydney store....its USD60 on the web site...very large difference...

This floral top is US60 on the US web site.

This green top (also in hot pink & red & yellow) is USD40 on the web site

As Carrie Bradshaw coined "hello lover" for shoes...these are USD99 on the web site...slightly more in the store....

This cotton pique jacket is AU139 and USD99. A steal when you look at the detail (further down)

(the pants & top are also available at the Sydney store)

Paisley chemise - US90 & AU110 in the Sydney store...

And another TIP: The US web site has categories for "Trenches/parkas", "Jackets" and "Cardigans". It appears that they classify ordinary tailored jackets as "Cardigans"....the stuff the show in "Jackets" is leather & other light weight outerwear trench/parka stuff....go figure! So if you're looking to comparison price a tailored jacket - head to "Cardigans".

Zara has a few womens labels within the overall Zara banner - eg: Zara Woman (best cuts, best fabrics in the most fashion forward or corporate styles - at the front of the Sydney store), Zara Basic (core basics often in more relaxed cuts in the back half of the Sydney store), TRF (a younger denim based womens label - on the kids floor). Within those labels, there are "Studio" or "Relaxed Denim" and some others I havent quite figured out yet. Stay tuned....

& today (20 May 2011) - I saw a navy tunic & a camel tunic with a large label called "Zara Collection"...oooohh...

Zara on line (eg: US or UK) doesnt ship to Australia at this stage. In fact, the US site shipping within the US has only started recently - Lordy knows how long it will take for Australia to be able to get deliveries direct....the reason I am questioning this is to be able to take advantage of the better US pricing...yes, I am greedy!!! The more I save, the more I can buy!

Apart from the frequency of new stock drops and the prices, the thing that has blown me away is the quality - Zara clothes are finished very very well....jackets sleeves often have functioning button holes, jackets have pin stitching on the lapels, they are well lined, scarves are cotton or wool (not just that nasty viscose), expensive zips are attached, silks are often used, the list goes on and on.

Look at the detail on this mens shirt - for $70. crazy price - you'd never find this quality at this price on the Sydney high street. Go Zara!

Oh and the stuff is so on trend, Zara boasts that it can go from concept to shop floor in 3 weeks.
I saw Celine inspired pleather tees today (50), Celine inspired camel coats (pleather patch pockets), Stella McCartney inspired denim tunics (90), Prada striped tops (40), Celine inspired pleather jackets (239) - this Celine inspired coat is USD190 on the US web site...piccie follows...

The plainer version was AU199 & USD159 on the web

My most lasting impression - its all inspired by the current runways styles. The fabrics and the cuts are amazing. And the prices are great - No wonder its madness & remains so even a month after opening.

IMO there are 2 reasons why Zara seems to be shooting the lights out.

Sydney shoppers are so used to been taken for a ride by Australian retailers, that this is precisely the reason that Zara is proving to be so popular. They are providing a tremendous variety of on-trend clothing, at great prices and their quality beats the existing Sydney high street any day of the week. Impressive. Exciting. Amazing. Long overdue. Oops, I said that previously. But its true.

2. Retailers underestimate Australian style. Here is evidence that we want the latest and we want it now. Out of the season be damned. Since Zara translates the trends so well and well priced, Australians are pouncing on the goods.

I hear you asking - where are the famous people????
Yes, no blog is complete without the brushes with are mine....- on the day of opening, the Lowy family went in at around 10 am to check it out. They walked out at around 10.30 am. I snapped Stephen Lowy (glasses closest to me) leaving the store (from the kids entrance - the quietest)....

& papa Lowy just behind him(lightest suit - at the front of the entourage).....(you can see his hand in the Stephen Lowy photo)

The site has photos of the Sydney store opening night can view more famous people there...

Some information on the company & its processes in general....

Zara's success is all the more surprising because at least half its factories are in Europe, where wages are many times higher than in Asia and Africa. But to maintain its quick inventory turnover, the company must reduce shipping time to a minimum. The fast-fashion approach also helps Zara reduce its exposure to fashion faux pas. The company produces batches of clothing in such small quantities that even if it brings out a design that no one will buy it can cut its losses quickly and move on to another trend.

Zara's fast pace means that some popular items appear and disappear within a week, creating an image of scarcity that many shoppers find irresistible "They've built up an excitement around snapping up new clothes before they go. As well as keeping sales high throughout the year, it also keeps margin-stripping markdowns to a minimum. Works for us! Just between you and me, I think they replenish the fast movers so we dont miss out!

Zara has a designer team of about 200 members, but it also use a special theory: the ohnism or the 5 zeros theory - no stocks, no paper, no delay, no failure and no fault. Thus, they have a very efficient intranet network, which allow them to answer to any demand, no matter where does it come from....

PS: All prices are in AU unless I state USD
PPS: Melbourne store planned to open in June 2011 in Bourke Street Mall with a size of 1,700 square metres. Bring it on!

In contrast, some of its worldwide competitors....

H & M Hennes & Mauritz AB
(operating as H&M) is a Swedish retail-clothing company, known for its fast fashion clothing offerings for women, men and kids.

The design team in the company’s Sweden office controls the steps of production from merchandise planning to establishing specifications, and production is outsourced to approximately 800 factories in Europe and Asia. These facilities are used for horizontal division of labor rather than being vertically integrated. In contrast, Zara is vertigally integrated, controlling the making and the supply chain.

H&M uses a slightly different strategy. Around one quarter of its stock is made up of fast-fashion items that are designed in-house and farmed out to independent factories. As at Zara, these items move quickly through the stores and are replaced often by fresh designs. But H&M also keeps a large inventory of basic, everyday items sourced from cheap Asian factories.

To add pizzazz to its lineup, the Swedish retailer has also struck deals with high-fashion designers Stella McCartney, Jil Sander, Karl Lagerfeld, Lanvin, Sonia Rykiel to create limited, one-time collections, which generally sell out within days. H&M is a strong financial performer too.

Topshop is a British clothes retailer with stores in over 20 countries and online operations in some of its markets. Topshop's sales primarily come from women's clothing and fashion accessories. It is part of the Arcadia Group, which owns a number of other retail outlets including Burton, Dorothy Perkins and Miss Selfridge.

Topshop in Oxford Street, London is the world's largest fashion store and is also the home of the brand's flagship store. It is roughly 90,000 square feet (8,400 sq mt) and covers five floors. Topshop's first flagship outside the UK is located on Broadway in New York City. It is roughly 60,000 square feet (5,600 m2).

After the recent success of the Kate Moss clothing range collaboration in the UK (which hasnt been continued), Topshop decided to introduce the range to the United States market. Topshop has struck a deal with U.S. department store Barneys New York to sell through its 19 stores. Topshop also has a presence in 'Opening Ceremony' in their New York store.

Apart from Kate Moss, Topshop has been partnering and supporting designers like Celia Birtwell, Marios Schwab, Richard Nicoll, Jonathan Saunders and others for many years.

Since 2005, Topshop showed its own in-house designed collection, Unique, as part of the official London Fashion Week schedule. The only high street brand to show at London Fashion Week, Unique’s fun and irreverent approach to style has made it a first choice for those who like to stay ahead.

Mango is an internationally famous multinational based in Spain which designs, manufactures and marketswomen's and men's clothing and accesories.

In order to develop a truly integral implantation, Mango suplies its stocks to its franchisees under a deposit system. It goal is to ensure that all its stores, distributed throughout the world, have the products they required in accordance with the speed of stock rotation and sales forecasts. This ensures the continuous renewal of products and a production that keep space with market demand, in terms of both volume and variety.

Since 2007 Mango has been collaborating with celebrities such as Milla Jovovich, Elizabeth Hurley and Penélope and Mónica Cruz.

From what I have been able to figure out, Mango is more mass market clothing & perhaps less on trend (not a bad thing - it means more basics) than Zara.

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