How every move by Inditex/Zara can change your world

Happy Weekend ladies and gents, bringing you another nugget of news from the fashion world on my Friday Afternoon series this week!

A few days ago while cruising on businessofashion.com (a daily must read for anyone in or interested in the fashion industry), an article caught my eye about Zara’s parent company Inditex. What drew me in was not the title, because lord knows we have enough articles out there about Zara, but the image of this high tech control room-like office that’s more fitting for a futuristic military command center than a intelligence central for a retail company.

Source: BoF

BoF was invited to get a rare inside glimpse of Inditex on location in Spain and Morocco, and this article is eye opening.  Most average consumers have an idea of just how large of an empire these fashion fashion chains can be and the negative impact they can have on our planet, but never have I read anything with this much insight into the operations of Inditex and I felt compelled to share my personal observations as well.

The secret sauce to Inditex’s success

As an apparel designer and thus having been on the other side of the fence, I’ve always had a hard time putting my finger on Zara; it’s like a faceless organization that’s ludicrously well oiled and far too efficient for the average fast fashion retailer.  Employees never bother you, they don’t necessarily go out of their way to make your shopping experience better, but are always omnipresent with their modified iPods to find your size for you.  Their stores resemble high fashion boutiques and each location, even in different countries, offers the same robotic experience.  Their website is clean and easy to shop, don’t get me started on H&M’s or F21’s, and your orders always come neatly packaged with tissue paper.  And unlike even their competition keeping up with trends, they ARE the trends; they know what you want before you do.  Everything is so neat and zipped up that it’s creepy.  After reading this article though it all makes sense.

Inditex takes an analytic approach to the fashion business; they exist to serve the customer and takes unconventional paths to achieve that.  They invest into technology and software that allows them, in real time, to measure quantitative and qualitative data as to what people are buying and how much.  To ultimately compliment this data, they have “proximity sourced” facilities within the supply chain that allow them to action off the information they mine.

While conventional high street retailers pre-commit about 60 percent of their production, Inditex plans only about 15 percent in advance — the rest is made in response to customer feedback. Inditex can design, manufacture and deliver product to the shop floor, all in three weeks.  – BoF

Mind blown!  To give you a better idea why this is so shocking, the company I used to work with thought 2 months from design to floor set was fast.  For a more traditional retailer, the road from when a product gets designed to when it set is long and laborious, and often fraught with complications.  We design, talk about our palette, commit to buying the fabric, commit to dyeing the fabric and trims, fits, etc..it just goes on and on, until months later we decide the item is no longer in trend and drop the whole thing.  Our core regular production cycle involves me designing pieces to set in stores about a year later.

There’s no money to be made if there isn’t a planet to do business on, though

Then comes sustainability.  When a company is this massive, it’s simply impossible to have no impact and as one of the largest retailers on Earth, they certainly have the responsibility to minimize such damages.

With huge scale comes huge challenges. Inditex’s operations are now so large that every action the company takes has the potential to have vast negative impact on the planet. If every Inditex store accidentally left on a light overnight, it would add up to almost nine years of wasted electricity.  – BoF

But because they produce to demand, this in turn reduces the quantity of unsold items and minimizes the waste footprint overall.

“I cannot afford waste. I need to secure that my production must be demanded. In the first moment, it’s more expensive. But the margins are lower at the end of the cycle,” said Jesús Echevarría, Inditex’s chief communications officer.  -BoF

And all this is made possible by that high tech data command center.  This, however, doesn’t change the fact that droves and droves of clothing are bought and chucked at an alarming rate every year.

“Here you can control the whole world,” [Echevarría] murmured, as we toured the company’s facilities.  If a light is left on in Zara’s Shanghai store, someone in this room knows about it.  -BoF

But now it all makes sense.  The mechanical responsiveness so tangible that a mere shopper (albeit a knowledgeable one) like me can feel it in the air of every single Zara store.  An experience so carefully crafted and controlled that shoppers get addicted to it without even knowing.  Although this should come as no surprise; logically speaking, there’s no other way that a company can grow into what Inditex is today without doing something unusual and extraordinary.

Profits at Zara are up to four times higher than other apparel retailers.  -BoF

Yea, I’d bet.

I can finally define the face of Zara, or rather, a lack thereof – the image of that gorgeous data center will forever be ingrained in my subconsciousness every time I browse through their racks.  Which was, incidentally, quite recent:

inditex-post-alice-typenu

This rib tee coming soon to a post near you!

Inditex – Agile Fashion Force by BoF; a must read.  In order to strive for consumer responsibility we must first be educated, and there’s no better place to start than this insightful and informative piece into the largest retailer on Earth.

Linking up with Lifestyle by Joules.

Leave me your thoughts on this, I know you have some!

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  • Thanks Fionna! I learned so much about Zara myself from this article, it explains so much how they can offer such a different experience from H&M and F21 (although Zara prices I feel are generally slightly higher).

  • woah just saw this post and very interesting! zara is definitely one of the top fast-fashion retailers out there. they’re really close to their manufacturers so they can easily place orders and have them sent out. it’s so interesting learning about them, but i really love the stuff they come out with. not gonna lie, a lot of them are designer replicas/inspired, but for a broke girl like me, zara is the perf spot to buy clothes. plus, some trends aren’t worth spending so much money on. nice post girl!

    http://www.fionnac.com

  • Vicky

    Oh dear, thank for sharing it! <3
    I love posts out of "ootd´s" 😀
    xoxo,
    Vicky

    http://fashiondiiary.com

  • very Interesting post!!!

    http://www.discovercoupon.com

  • Wow, so cool! Thanks for sharing babe x

    Kisses,

    BLOG | TAISLANY

  • Thank you Melis! It’s fascinating to watch them out maneuver smaller and more nimble fashion chains, and how very aware they are of the impact they have on the planet.

  • Elizabeth (Plant Based Bride)

    Such an interesting read!

  • Diana Horsfall

    thanks for share! it was so cool to read about it

    http://www.queenhorsfall.com/

  • that’s a fascinating tech read behind the empire that is Zara… thanks for sharing!

    http://www.heyprettything.com

  • such a great post babe!
    xx
    http://thedemeler.com

  • This is a great post, loving how insightful it is! Zara definitely built one of the biggest fashion empires out there, and their company strategies are always amazing to watch!

    xx Melis
    http://fashionmews.com

  • Pisa

    Great post dear! I really love zara! They have such beautiful clothes! :))
    Have a great week!
    XO Pisa
    http://www.inlovewithmyclothes.com

  • Lindsey Janssen

    I’m a Zara addict too, loved reading your post!

    stay styled,

    Lindsey

    IG: stay_styled
    BLOG: http://staystyledblog.com/

  • I confess, I am a Zara addict. Good to know I am not alone!

  • Super enlightening article. I love BoF for going into the gritty details of the fashion business. Thanks for sharing the article!

    xo

    N

    Style Tomes ||ST on IG

  • Thanks for bringing this up about Zara, it was such an enjoyable read.

    http://www.racheldinh.com

  • This is really interesting! I love Zara! Great to know =)

    – Cielo

    Follow me on Mermaid in Heels

    Follow my blog with Bloglovin

  • Girl, this was amazing. I have never gave much thought to it but I totally agree
    http://www.kmeetsstyle.com

  • I have never ever thought the whole industry behind the brand but you’re right, it all does make sense now. Zara does offer a very different experience and I can’t help but walk in whenever I come across a Zara store.

    Shireen | Reflection of Sanity

  • Haha there’s always zara.com! Thanks for reading <3

  • I learned a lot myself from this article, their business model really is unique!

  • Thanks for reading Cara! 😉

  • Same here, their ability to remain relevant and modern at their company size is amazing!

  • Wow, this is so interesting! You said it well. Zara knows what I want before I do.

    Amy Ann
    Straight A Style

  • Mes Voyages à Paris

    Interesting!!

    xx

    Mónica Sors

    MES VOYAGES À PARIS

    NEW POST: KNIT ON KNIT SPRING LOOK!

  • This is a great piece of info! Thanks for sharing!
    http://www.thestyletune.com

  • Wow, amazing post – so inspiring and motivated at the same time! Zara is my all time favorite high street shop and I love how affordable but modern they are just like any other designer stores.
    xx
    http://putitallonme.com/

  • Cara E

    I had no idea about anything to do with Inditex but this was so interesting! I do love a bit of Zara x
    britishmermaid.blogspot.co.uk

  • Dorothy Bell

    Great post! I love it, so excited to see the post about that ribbed tee 😀
    Have a nice day!

  • Thanks for reading! 😉

  • I had to read so many articles about Zara while in college for fashion merchandising. Their business practices are unlike any other! This is such an insightful post. 🙂

    Best,
    Christina

    Looks by Lau

  • PLAYING WITH APPAREL

    WOW Alice, this is such a great post.. I loved reading it. I love Zara… in fact I kinda wanna go right now haha

    Happy Sunday! Have a beautiful week

    Filipa xxx
    PlayingWithApparel.com | Instagram

  • A very interesting read. I had read a similar article about inditex and so it’s interesting to hear others views about the company x

    http://vanessavonjames.blogspot.co.uk

  • I did my report on Inditex company when I was in fashion school and their company is very good, from very chic clothes to the way they run their business and how they make sure it does not affect the environment! Great post!

    Mischelle
    http://www.nowthatschic.com

  • This is so fascinating! I’ve never shopped at Zara before, mostly because there isn’t one in proximity to wear I live and I don’t shop online for clothes unless I really know the brand well. Now I’m curious to give them a try.

  • Alanda Ware-Thomson

    Wow this is so interesting. Thanks heaps for sharing this post, makes me want to shop at zara more now 🙂

    http://www.whiteandcapsule.com/

    xxxxx

  • I love Zara shop though i find it not affordable but to compare with other brands, it should be a little bit lower.
    Great thoughts about this,

    Have a great day!

    http://www.thebandwagonchic.com/

  • Oh great digging fashion stuff woman, are you sure you don’t work for CIA, great post,xoxo BING.

  • This is so amazing! I love zara, but this makes me love them even more! Thanks for the post Alice!
    xoxo
    Serein
    http://sereinwu.com

  • This was such an interesting article. I had no idea that their production cycle was so different than other retailers. It makes sense!

    Jill
    Doused In Pink

  • Isidora Matic

    Gorgeous!
    Happy Sunday, my gorgeous friend!
    xoxo, Isidora
    http://highheelpoodl.blogspot.rs/

  • Evelyn

    intersting post! love it, thanks for sharing dear
    have a great day
    xx,
    http://evelyn-halim.blogspot.co.id/

  • Wow, who knew!? What an interesting article. I also wonder about how Zara maintains its…perfection. This is really enlightening

    https://forsevenseasons.wordpress.com

  • Thanks for reading Gabrielle! Their whole production cycle and sophisticated business architecture is just amazing!

  • Eva

    This is such an interesting & informative post. Love reading it. And what a data centre it is! Have a lovely weekend sweetie <3

    xoxo Eva | http://www.evakindles.com

  • Amanda Jacobson

    Such an eyeopening article! I really enjoyed this and I agree BOF is a must read on the daily…

    Lots of love,
    Amanda
    http://www.ainsleyandamanda.com/

  • Sunita Ramic

    Very interesting post!

    Sunita | http://www.alittlebitof.at

  • This was such an interesting and great read. I never even knew about it. Have a lovely weekend ♥

    tipscapsule.blogspot.com

  • Nina

    This is so informative post. Have a nice weekend ahead. xx
    Nina
    http://www.ninasstyleblog.com

  • What a great reflection of the article! Thank you for sharing.
    -Kyanna
    http://kyannajames.com/?p=552

  • Wow, I have never knew this much. Thank you so much for sharing.

    http://www.kangkanrabha.com

  • Roxanne
  • Their data centre has really surprised me, I’m getting serious ‘Bond film’ vibes from it haha! I remember when I first read about how Zara changed their stock every week and that seemed amazing enough, so to know they plan-and-produce in just three weeks in total is beyond incredible. Fascinating post, Alice 🙂

    Gabrielle | A Glass Of Ice x