Zara started as a single store in A Coruña in Galicia, Spain. It was opened in 1975 by Amancio Ortega and his then wife, Rosalía Mera. Initially, Ortega and Mera wanted to call the brand Zorba after the main character of the movie “Zorba the Greek” but the name was already taken by a bar on the same street, so they made a decision to call it Zara1.
In its first decade, Zara built its presence only in Spain. In 1985, the owners, in order to replicate Zara’s business model and utilize the existing factories more effectively, set up Inditex, the holding company. That’s when Zara began its global expansion, with the first international store opening in Porto, Portugal in 1988.
In the 90s, Inditex started launching other high-street fashion brands – first Pull & Bear, then Bershka and later Oysho. It also acquired Massimo Dutti and Stradivarius. According to the New York Times, all of these brands “follow the Zara template: trendy and decently made but inexpensive products sold in beautiful, high-end-looking stores”2.
Zara’s cofounder, Amancio Ortega, is believed to be the originator of the fast fashion business model – an ultra-quick manufacturing process combined with short collections, allowing the company to respond rapidly to fast-changing trends. At the core of the firm’s ability to execute on this strategy is its vertically integrated supply chain and a data-driven approach to design and production. It’s this expertise that has made Inditex one of the biggest apparel companies in the world in terms of revenue and market value3; within its portfolio Zara stands out as one of the most valuable global apparel brands.
Despite the fact that, according to most business analysts, Zara and Inditex represent fast fashion, this is not how the company sees itself. Marta Ortega Pérez, the non-executive chair of Inditex, Amancio Ortega’s daughter and his successor, told the Financial Times: “We don’t recognise ourselves in what they call ‘fast fashion’. Because that brings to mind the amount of unsold items and poor-quality clothes focused on a very cheap price, and that cannot be further from what we do. On the other hand, we have a business model that is focused mainly on customer demand, so we react to that.”4
Zara’s value proposition is to some extent similar to that of H&M‘s – it is based on the promise of the latest trends at affordable prices. However, Zara is much more focused on building a premium brand image and targeting people with an interest in high fashion rather than street fashion. It does so through aspirational communication, strategic locations of its stores (situated next to more luxurious labels such as Gucci, Prada or Christian Dior), and through its specific approach to product development. Unlike H&M which builds its fashion credentials by collaborating with high fashion designers and style icons, Zara (and Inditex as a whole), as The New York Times put it, “essentially imitates the latest fashions and speeds their cheaper versions into stores”5. Zara’s designers are anonymous, but its products often resemble high fashion collections.
Until recently, Zara used to describe its positioning through four brand values: beauty, clarity, functionality and sustainability. Today, it puts a much stronger emphasis on the attribute of fashion (“forward-thinking force in fashion”6, “inspiringly beautiful, always on-trend, responsibly crafted fashion”7) and accessibility to everyone (“providing everyone, no matter where they are with (…) the fashion they deserve”8). Zara’s focus on fashion is in line with the vision of the entire Inditex group which defines itself as “Fearlessly Innovative Fashion”9 and “a family of brands that celebrate style, self-expression and the power of fashion to make a change”10.
Zara has a few sub-brands, whose identities are close to the main umbrella brand (e.g., Zara Home and Zara SRPLS).
Zara spends famously little on traditional advertising when compared to its competitors. When it does, similar to other fashion brands, it communicates primarily via visuals rather than words. Zara’s brand world is trendy, artistic, creative and fashion-oriented. On the one hand, it listens carefully to its consumers’ needs, while on the other hand, it wants to inspire them (“Zara is always striving to meet the needs of its customers at the same time as helping to inform their ideas, trends and tastes”).
Zara is primarily a Creator brand, which stands for fashion, the latest trends, inspiration, and creativity.
1. “Zara Rhuigi. Cross Country” (2023)
2. “Zara Origins. Second Edition” (2022)
3. “Woman Campaign Spring Summer 2020” (2020)
4. “Zara | Woman Campaign Fall Winter 2018″ (2018)
5. “Zara Woman Spring / Summer 2016”
“Zara is a forward-thinking force in fashion; embodying what is possible when responsibility and aspiration are accessible to all. By bringing more thoughtful style to the world, we aim to provide everyone, no matter where they are, with the inspiringly beautiful, always on-trend, responsibly crafted fashion they deserve.”11
Zara used to have a popular sub-brand called Zara TRF (Trafaluc) targeting a younger audience and offering more affordable products. It was discontinued in 2020.12
1. Interview with Marta Ortega Pérez, the non-executive chair of Inditex
J. Ellison, “The Zara Woman: An Exclusive Interview With Marta Ortega Pérez”, The Financial Times, Mar 2023,
2. Analysis of Zara’s strategy
M. Roll, “The Secret Of Zara’s Success: A Culture Of Customer Co-creation”, Martin Roll, Nov 2021,
3. The BBC on Zara’s founder
L. Hooker, “How Zara’s Founder Became The Richest Man In The World – For Two Days”, BBC News, Sep 2016,
4. Business Insider on Zara’s business model
A. Lutz, “This Clothing Company Whose CEO Is Richer Than Warren Buffett Is Blowing The Competition Out Of The Water”, Business Insider, Jun 2015,