Sunday, July 18, 2010


Because of a my unshakable slothdom, most of the info I share comes from what I can remember off the top of my head - facts and figures from skimming through Wikipedia and/or simply from just don't quote me on a lot of the stuff! Today I thought I'd blog a bit on one of, if not my favorite, past-time: Shopping! Yesterday, my dear friend Patty, came up with the bright idea of hitting the mall in order to keep cool with the kids. You see our A/C had been pushed to it's limit last week & hasn't been working since. This whole thing about the busted A/C is actually another blogworthy subject, but I'll save that for next time. Today I just want to focus on shopping.

Now one of my all-time favourite boutiques is Zara. You might have never paid much attention to this before, but it will probably suddenly click now that I'm telling you that Zara does not adverstise. Yeah, my reaction exactly! That's because when the Spanish magnate, Amancio Ortega, founded the chain in the mid-70's he opted to skip the publicity that his peers spend big bucks on and used the money instead to open up more stores - He was certainly confident that the times were auspicious and that his maverick business strategy would work and that he would have a huge patronage in no time! So that's why you never see billboards, tv commercials and so forth of Zara. You'll also never see a runway show because they concentrate on understanding what their consumers really want now and on delivering it to them rather than promoting predicted trends for the next season. Because they take care of their own design, production and distribution, Zara can churn out fresh and trendy styles faster that you can say, "houndstooth wool and cashmere blend coat!" or "paisley print halter silk top!" or "gold strappy gladiator sandals!" or "black chiffon sheath dress to be cinched with a funky studded belt and paired up with sexy stilleto sandals!!!" that is, around five weeks tops (lol), while it can take months for most companies to come up with a new collection and actually have the finished goods on their shelves. Moreover, when a certain style doesn't sell, they pull it out of the stores right away and cancel any further orders for the same. No single style stays on the sales floor for more than a month. According to Wikipedia, an average high-street store in Spain expects customers to visit three times a year. That goes up to 17 times for Zara, owing to this constant influx of fresh styles. I'm not too sure what the averages are for their boutiques in other countries, but having raked in 6.824 billion € in revenue in 2008, I wouldn't be too worried. No, I have no idea what this figure translates to in terms of profit margins in their books or in comparison to their competition, or in relation to the industry as a whole, but that's a lot of money!!!

I like Zara simply because it is very fashion-forward and affordable - it totally fits my pocketbook. I like how complete outfits and actually an entire season's wardrobe is grouped together on racks with the matching footwear perched either above the clothes or beneath them with accessories strategically displayed around the store - eliminating a lot of the guesswork which is especially great when you're a busy mom with not too much time to shop. Of course it's a different story come sale time when it always seems like a search party had ransacked the place, leaving not a single garment unturned. Well, that is exactly what happens, the stores do get combed by a cohort of girls of all ages, from the pre-pubescent to the menopausal (although I think it is the hormonally charged members of the 18-35 age group that do the most damage!) I know this is the beef a lot of my friends have against the store, particularly a neat-freak friend of mine who won't even bother going in altogether because of that. I think that's sad becasue she's really really missing out. Personally, I would never abandon Zara for that reason, what turns me off even more is when sales associates at certain other boutiques snarl and growl at you in a rabid dog manner for messing up a neat pile of clothes they had painstakingly folded. Are you kidding me? It's tons of fun rummaging through piles upon piles of sweaters, and flipping through racks after racks of dresses and digging into mounds and mounds of shoes. It's just a matter of inspecting the merchandise first to ensure that it is intact, checking for missing buttons, detached zippers, tears, lipstick stains and even BO. I know, I know, it's just because I had a nasty experience once when I tried on an outfit that stank of that, realizing it a bit too late after it had already touched my skin, talk about gross! So what I do now is give all clothes a little discreet sniff-over before I hit the dressing room. No, you don't necessarily have to bury your face into the fabric and smell away as if it's a Downy commercial, you would just end up getting high on the sizing chemicals that way. Just a quick whiff and you should be safe...better that than sorry, I always say! (I swear I almost have it down to a science! I think it's good practice and encourage everyone else to do likewise!) So, with all of that being said, I like Zara for how they are able to strike a perfect balance between ultra-feminine and trendy in their designs while keeping them reasonably priced....

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