Because you can't have depths without surfaces.
Linda Grant, thinking about clothes, books and other matters.

Thursday, 14 August 2008

Fun without needles

(Thank you greying pixie)

Some cruel types might observe that the women demonstrating the techniques has a) had botox and b) has either a bad case of rosacea or a heavy hand with the blusher brush

Banana Republic: The Jackson Fit

Well, ladies. This afternoon I went to the UK (and Europe's) only Banana Republic where they now have the entire Autumn range in. Before me, black trousers as far as the eye can see so I begin to go from rack to rack searching for the Jackson and I do not find them. Eventually, I ask a sales assistant, who marches purposefully to the rack I have just come from, swings round a ticket, and says, 'Oh!'

I traipse along behind her as she goes through all the racks I've been through and cannot find any Jacksons.

She goes off into the office, and when she returns she tells me that every single Jackson in every style, and every size has sold out, 'because they have turned out to be more popular than we expected.' The stock, she says, was ordered a year ago, nine months before the London store opened its doors and that the company had 'misread the market.'

There are more Jacksons coming in on Saturday and all I can say is, get in line.

The man behind Zara

Further to yesterday's post about Zara, there's another piece on its reclusive founder, Amancio Ortega Gaona. It's worth reading it all. Zara spends almost nothing on advertising, which itself keeps costs down. There is no 'face of'' Zara. As I said yesterday, I think its design is amazing, but the quality control is dire:

The 72-year-old son of a railway worker is now, according to Forbes, the seventh richest man in the world. He is astonishingly reclusive - only one known photo of him is in existence. He is thought to be deeply involved in all areas of the business, including design, but little is certain. Zara was one of the first to bulk-buy Chinese fabrics at a time when rivals dismissed them as of low quality. Zara legend has it that Ortega himself felt the cloth and made the decision, but as he has never given an interview we can't be sure.

He opened his first store in Galicia in 1975 and expanded slowly across Spain. In 1984, he met computer whizz Jose Castellano, who developed a production and distribution system that allowed clothing to go from drawing board to shop floor in as little as 10 days. Zara recruited a team of young designers - 200 at the last count - who created clothes inspired by the catwalk as well as adding their own ideas.

"So-called 'fast fashion' is now common in the high street," says Maureen Hinton, lead retail analyst at Verdict Research. "But before Zara arrived in the UK in 1999, all retailers offered three or four seasons. Zara introduces new stock every week, which caught our stores on the hop.""Zara has absolute control of the design, manufacturing and distribution process," explains Robert Clark, senior analyst at Retail Knowledge Bank. "Fifty per cent of its product is made in Spain, 26 per cent in the rest of Europe, and 24 per cent elsewhere. With others, 50 per cent or more is made in Asia. Fast-fashion items, roughly half its sales, are made in company-owned factories in Galicia. It's the basic T-shirt staples that are outsourced."

Although Zara owns its factories in order to speed up the process, this has also allowed it to dodge many of the sweatshop accusations that hound the likes of Primark - although in June it closed a textile supplier's factory in Dhaka over poor conditions, insisting that the factory introduce unions if it wanted to remain a Zara supplier.