Zara: A Story of Obsession

Amidst a complex context, the value of Zara, the most globally relevant fashion brand, has grown 10.3% in 2023, reaching $16.502 billion. The positive news gains even more significance when considering that the Spanish firm has not only weathered the recent aftermath of the pandemic but also dealt with the exit from a market as crucial as Russia and a significant inflationary wave. 

While the fashion category is currently immersed in a struggle for profitability, Zara’s pioneering process of integrating physical and digital channels, driven by both Zara and the other brands within the Inditex group, has ensured a sweet moment for the Galician brand that has proven to be sustainable over time. 

In essence, every time it seemed that their model was running out of steam, Zara has successfully reinvented itself. “The brand’s trajectory is a story of continuous adaptation to the market, of transformation for improvement, always focused on providing the customer with the product they seek, along with the best shopping experience,” says Raúl Estradera, Chief Communication Officer at Inditex. This transformative nature stems from an obsession – an obsession with emotion. 

“Our comprehensive fashion sales proposal finds its meaning in the emotion of each customer entering physical stores or online platforms.” Zara’s original dream of bringing the beauty of fashion to millions worldwide continues to be nurtured through collaborations with top actors of various kinds: designers, models, photographers, stylists, and more. Steven Meisel, Narciso Rodríguez, Rhuigi Villaseñor, Ader Error, Studio Nicholson, Irina Shayk, Kate Moss, Linda Evangelista, David Sims, Craig McDean, and Harry Lambert form part of the group of names and brands that have partnered with Zara in recent years, elevating its positioning to reach more people every day. 

The emotion emanating from their fashion proposal extends further, thanks to another obsession: listening to customers. While in the ’70s and ’80s, stores conveyed customer comments or requests to headquarters via telephone, today’s technology provides the necessary tools to listen and interpret in real-time and in a human and individualized manner. This practice allows for “listening until the last moment” and making decisions parallel to garment production or stock allocation to specific stores or markets, considering climate data, trends driven by influencers, etc. 

One of the outcomes of this listening is the new store model being implemented in numerous countries worldwide, seamlessly integrating with the digital channel. In this way, physical and online channels do not compete but collaborate, enhancing the customer experience with services such as Pay&Go, dressing room reservations, customization (such as dynamic search grids on the website and app), or the Store Mode, allowing customers to locate their favorite items – and Zara to understand what is happening in every corner of its spaces at any given moment. All of this to address another obsession: the experience, making “entering Zara worthwhile, whether you make a purchase or not.” 

With all these elements, Zara, along with the rest of the Inditex Group, finds itself in an unbeatable position to achieve its next goal: being “a relevant player in transforming the sector towards a more sustainable model, with circularity as its objective.” In addition to renewing its commitments in this regard at the latest shareholders’ meeting, the group has put all its effort into collaboration, with the aim of building a new path for the industry. Through its Sustainability Innovation Hub, it directly engages with startups, academic institutions, and technological centers, promoting and scaling new materials, technologies, and processes. These are projects that, for example, investigate how to recycle cotton-polyester blend garments and reuse them separately or promote the use of high-quality fibers created from discarded garments. 

Similar collaborations exist with major companies, as seen in “The Laundry by Zara Home,” the first detergent designed to reduce the release of microfibers during garment washing, developed by Inditex in partnership with BASF. “We want to play a role as a change agent, collaborating at all levels, both within the sector and in other areas.” 

This is how Zara continues to build its leadership in a new era for fashion, doing so from the periphery, from a distant corner of Europe, Galicia, whose legacy, values, and identity have never stopped being part of its DNA. 

Special Report

Best China Brands 2023