That love you feel in the air here in Seattle may not only be related to Valentine’s Day. After much anticipation among the city’s fashion lovers, Zara has finally opened in downtown Seattle at Westlake Center. The large, two-story space next to Nordstrom Rack faces bustling Pine Street on the second floor, through high windows adorned with brightly colored coats. Zara is known for its chic stores in major global locations that bring runway fashion quickly to the masses—also known as “fast fashion”—and this is the first store in this region.
For all of you who haven’t yet made it in or may not know what to expect, here is a bit of a map and some context for the shopping experience of Zara.
The bright interior is divided into four sections: Zara Woman, Zara Man, Zara Kids and TRF, which stands for the word trafaluc, their teen/youth line. Along with the usual floor displays, each area holds sleek, open boxes and sections that hold items following a specific and current concept or trend.
These concepts are constantly being changed and updated according to customer reactions, runway looks and seasons. During a pre-opening tour, we were met by Jesús Echevarriía, the chief communications officer for Inditex, Zara’s corporate parent and the world’s largest fashion retailer. He spoke with us regarding the design concepts and small production practices of Zara. Echevarriía explained how Zara’s design teams are in close contact with customers’ reactions and change products every two to three weeks, moving new pieces to the stores within 48 hours. Trends are followed closely and garment styles are not repeated once they have sold out. The idea is to be always current. The image and layout of Zara also changes approximately every 18 months.
Current looks for men included blue and black combinations, blue, grey and white, and Paris and NYC influences, including the double collar shirt. Styles range from rock star leathers and denim to classic tailoring and include a limited edition section that is the first of its kind for Zara. Zara Man also has suiting, and personal leather goods, like soft leather duffel bags.
Zara Woman had zipper details, high waist skirts and track pants with cropped blouses. Colors ranged from brilliant yellow, green and coral to soft blues and pinks in shoes, cropped motorcycle jackets and dresses. There are gorgeous embellished sweaters and blouses, mesh detailing, and cool graphics on shirts and pants.
TRF showed high street style with high waist pants again, cropped tops, Hawaiian prints and skinny ripped denim. Bright yellow and nautical stripes, green camouflage and bright orange ruled. And the children section is enchanting. Both Baby and Kids mimicked the adult styles in a charming way, with baseball jackets, military inspired coats and striped and floral denim. Sweet graphics, corals, nudes and tulle are perfect for mini fashionistas.
Fast fashion and Zara
What does “fast fashion” mean? It is the idea of moving runway looks quickly to stores to keep up with current trends, and the implications of this are not entirely positive. Its negative connotations are related to past problems with knockoffs from designers, poor working conditions and pollution. Beyond that, it can also induce consumer burnout among those who feel they need to have every new thing. Zara is trying to distance itself from the negative aspects of fast fashion through a commitment to solid design and ethical business practices in fabrication. Echevarriía states that the models of Zara are in fact clarity and beauty, but not at the cost of sustainability.
The appeal of Zara coming to Seattle is in their designs, colors, and details making them a complement to the established shopping destinations, such as Nordstrom and Barneys. Variety is after all, the spice of life, and these larger stores allow a wide audience to build unique and chic core wardrobes affordably.
Does this mean that the investment piece has gone by the wayside, replaced by instant gratification? To the contrary, having a trend piece or an affordable basic can be the foundation and the balance with that must-have item from a boutique for those who are still stepping into fashion. I like to think of the addition of Zara as welcome inspiration for dressing high and low, which is a concept that is based in reality for most people who love design, fashion, and of course choices. I am more than a little weary of being described as a fleece, Gortex-wearing Seattleite. Yes, I own it and I wear it to ski or mountain bike with my family. But I am happiest in my hard-earned Valentino Rockstud heels, my $59 track pants, and my great aunt’s bracelet worn with a favorite grey cashmere sweater. Being able to recognize a gem or three from stores like Zara to incorporate into your closet alongside designer labels, consignment and vintage finds is a sign of true style.
I was recently reading the Editor’s Letter of Eva Chen, Editor-in-Chief of Lucky Magazine. She was addressing the idea of the stereotypes surrounding fashion and the seriousness of the business of fashion itself. Chen says, “To tell you the truth, I never really understood why fashion had to be so serious. After all, its main by-product—shopping—is such a joy.” I couldn’t agree more. Happy shopping.