Is the ‘copycat’ style of Zara turning us into impulse buyers?

We’re all partial to a pit stop at High Street favourite, Zara, where the most price-concerned of trend scavengers hunters can satiate their thirst for a leather peplum on the cheap. Yes, we’re all guilty of it, but who can blame us?

Chanel’s LBJ will set you back £1,500 or so; its high street version at Zara, a mere £60. A Valentino’s studded leather tote means shelling £1,695 on a dead animal, but Zara will have you parting with £89.99 and leave your conscience partly intact.

If these price drops are frighteningly exciting, in a twisted sort of way, then imagine how smug the Spanish brand’s famously camera shy overlord, Amancio Ortega Gaona, the world’s 3rd richest man must be with his hypnotising concoction of well presented trend-led pieces at fractional prices, and fast. And so was born ‘fast fashion’: a term greatly reviled by the fashion elite.

A recent article in The New York Times Magazine highlighted some very interesting points about the aggressive and somewhat ‘dark’ expansion of the High Street brand, which is part of holding company Inditex, home to brands such as Massimo Dutti, Pull & Bear and Berskha. Don’t get me wrong, I find myself lulled into a false sense of Wangish security every time I walk past the store and spot a runway-fresh inspired piece, but said article raised a rather important question in my mind: is Zara’s rapid, 3-week trend response timeframe turning us into fad-guzzling impulse buyers?

Zara’s price points are moderately low, and the aesthetic shockingly (and impressively) high end, but what the High Street trend-zilla, as I like to call it, is doing is making the fashion process far less painful, by taking the seasonal wait out of the equation and giving its customers free reign of the drawing board, creating up what they want, not what they should be wearing. This, I believe, is leading to a surge in impulse buys because we see what we’ve asked for, and almost snap it up without any forethought.

Removing the element of anticipation from waiting for fashion’s several collections to become accessible each year could prove dangerous to our overflowing wardrobes. You want a red leather trouser in March but its ‘out’ before you’ve even had a chance to wear it. The ‘fast’ part of fast fashion means Zara is gobbling up and churning (some may position this as ripping off) high end designs at supersonic speed, and the population that cannot afford Balmain’s bankruptcy-inducing prices, but want all the glamour of the house’s famed razor-sharp tuxedo jacket, is in sartorial heaven. But is this speedy copycat approach disabling our ‘investment’ radar, and making us fall foul to the clutches of fashion with a short shelf life?

Fashion and style experts will often tell you that top quality investment buys are the key to a happy and healthy wardrobe, but it’s worrying to think that amidst overpowering in-store merchandising and soaking up trends on an assembly line basis, we may be reducing our ability to understand the idea of dressing for ourselves.

Zara may be a prospering brand in a country currently in the clutches of a financial disaster, but its grandiose production scale and trend turnaround wouldn’t let on. And if austere times call for desperately cost-effective measures to come into play, then Zara have definitely got that sussed.

Are you led by trend, or do you chant the investment piece mantra?

[Image: thetimes.co.uk]

One Comment

  1. We love the designer copy-cats at Zara, but how do they get away with it? Some of their pieces are SO similar to the designers! I definitely have been influenced in buying things I have seen in there because I have recently seen them on the catwalks and it will take other brands months to offer the same thing. I do think I have made more impulse buys in Zara this year than any other shop!

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