It’s interesting about cos and fit. fit models are narrower and way taller than me. I shop “minis” to get something at the knee. Only a-lines. Or nipped waist. Or oversized. Then I love it. It’s good for my wallet and my ego to be able to be visually “blind” to things that I know won’t fit

I appreciate those numbers, Jenn, yikes! Staggering, really.

I have bought a few things from them in years past (e.g., a leather crossbody bag that I still use), but nothing in the last five years. Their website fries my brain, so that's a complete turn-off (and I know it's not just an age thing, because my 19 year old said "Zara has the worst online retail interface ever" or something like that, recently :), and the sheer magnitude of their output is another turn-off for me personally. That sort of volume and scale is beyond merely "fast fashion," IYKWIM.

My feelings about Zara are mixed too.

Their high turnover business model is out of keeping with sustainability goals, quality is variable, size inclusivity sucks, sizing is inconsistent, stores are hectic.

But, in their defence, I think that they’ve helped to democratise fashion (along with similar big retailers like H&M, ASOS). When I was at university in the 90s, the biggest trend at the time was to wear floral maxi dresses and stompy boots. I loved it. All of my (richer) friends were wearing it. Both the dresses (Laura Ashley) and the boots (Docs) were well out of my reach in terms of price. And there was no affordable competition. It may seem silly now but I felt sad and excluded because I couldn’t wear what my peers were wearing. Now, if that look were trending, I could pick it up for an affordable price at Zara or a similar store.

I do shop at Zara on occasion. I’m looking for interesting items that will last. I think it is possible to find them. I have had some good luck with jackets, jeans and cotton knits. Bad luck with anything viscose (shrinks) or cashmere (pilling). I have one Zara jacket that is 5+ years old and still going strong.

I hope they adjust their business model to a more sustainable one (there’s every chance that will happen, more and more retailers are going that way).

(And thanks for the kind words Bijou.)

Brooklyn, sounds like we're the same age -- in high school I really wanted the Dr Martens look but it seemed wrong to spend that much on shoes, if I'd even known where to find them. So I bought cheap combat boots at the Army Navy store. They smelled like burning tires and the lug sole slowly fell off in chunks. But, they lasted long enough to mark me as the grunge person in my tiny rural high school, so it was worth it! I wore them with vintage German army pants from the same store, overdyed purple.

When I got to college in a big city and encountered the wider world, I asked for Dr Martens for my 18th birthday. By then (mid 90s) they were mainstream enough that Nordstrom carried them. In fact, the first trip I ever made to Nordstrom (incredibly upscale from my view) was with my mother and my 86-yr-old grandmother to buy an expensive pair of steel toe Dr Martens. My grandmother was far from conventional but she was aghast that I'd wear something so ugly! I wore those boots almost every day of college and kept them at least 10 years, until the soles wore unevenly so my knees hurt when I wore them.

Anyway, that's a good point about democratizing fashion. I remember some trendy knock-offs at places like K-mart back in the day but they always looked like pale imitations. [Incidentally, I think K-mart still exists in Australia? But is more mid-range there, like Target? I believe it was always distinct from the now-defunct US K-mart, which was more down-market. I discovered all this when searching for emergency replacement socks on my one trip to Australia.]

Docs would be the perfect 18th birthday gift for you! You obviously had a strong sense of your style at an early age. My mum would have felt the same way about them as your grandmother (she still offers to fix the fraying on that Zara jacket).

Yes, K-Mart is a budget retailer here. Maybe pitching a bit lower than our version of Target. Those retailers were around here in the 90s but not offering the sort of aesthetic that Zara offers. I think of those retailers (and many other chain stores here) as much cheaper than Zara. But it is always Zara that cops the criticism for fast fashion.

Jenn, completely agree. Its pure green washing. Nothing that scale can be sustainable. If they really wanted to be sustainable they'd release two collections a year or limited number good quality clothing. They just want you to think they care...when reality is very different. I swore off fast fashion when I was in my early 20s. Tried a lot of more ethical clothing lines but they just don't fit my body type very well. I am tall and more editorial pieces look better on me. I've come to the conclusion I just need to stay away from fast fashion and try go for good quality pieces from wherever (but pick the most sustainable I can when given the choice) and hopefully i'll have a wardrobe I lobe, suits me and I feel fab in!

I've had a complicated relationship with Zara, too. I was nodding along with Brooklyn. "Their high turnover business model is out of keeping with sustainability goals, quality is variable, size inclusivity sucks, sizing is inconsistent, stores are hectic."

And yet -- I can usually get a good fit there for at least some types of item (jackets and tops, in particular), and I can't in places like COS or really many others, even at a higher price point, these days. J. Crew used to be reliable for me for certain essentials (even if overall the vibe is preppier than I'd like) but they've closed their Canadian stores and returns are prohibitive.

I've also had some real workhorses and/or long-lasting items from Zara.The top 3 Finds are still in my wardrobe. I have the sarong short that Janet also owns. I don't see myself getting rid of that short--- well -- ever! It's unusual enough that it just does not date. The two tees are also years old and still going strong -- among my faves ever!

The linen camp shirt and culottes were one season wonders, but when you consider how many wears they got -- at least 30 for the pants -- that's not so bad, really. Everything else pictured here lasted me 2-5 years. With a lot of wear. Several items were passed down to my stepdaughter before they wore out.

I don’t bother to check it anymore. Our local store is generally packed with shoppers with long lines for the fitting rooms. And as others have said, shopping online is a roll of the dice, with sizing and quality so variable.
However, when the quality *is* good, it can be very good. I still have 2 items in my closet from maybe 5 years ago - a cotton summer dress that looks new after many washings, and a polyester blouse that I use mainly for travel since it washes and dries so easily.

ooof those numbers are staggering.

Zara is such a conundrum! At first I avoided it as a fast fashion/trendy kind of place, but then I began to see article about their sustainability efforts. I wanted to support that, so I stopped to check them out. I just did not feel right there. Can’t explain why. Love the sarong shorts and Suz’s oxfords, but couldn’t figure out where to begin. Currently, admission to stores is limited, and there is always a line at Zara. Not that it matters—I can’t think of anything I need anyway.

I'll never forget my first visit to a bricks -and-mortar Zara. Maybe Sherway Gardens in Toronto? It was an absolute trash heap with clothes dumped everywhere except for the few racks at the front of the store merchandised with the newest collections . Line-ups , people everywhere, ugh. It makes me cringe just thinking about it. The store in no way represented what the online images promised - at least to my innocent eye.

Jenn, thank you. That's good info.

Brooklyn, I am sooo with you about feeling so awfully conflicted about Zara. As you astutely put, they DID help democratize fashion. I wish they were more size inclusive too.

FashIntern, I went back to support Zara precisely because I also read in numerous articles how they were producing more sustainably.

Yes, some of the stores can be a HECTIC mess. Others are better.

I have been in 2 Zara stores. The first was in Melbourne in 2015 before we had a Zara here. I bought one top I still have but have only worn 27 times in 6 years because the sleeves are really drapy and thus impractical. I cannot wear it either to work or if I’m cooking.
And a few years after that we got a store here which I went into and then out of! Overwhelming.
I think Jenn’s numbers put me off ever trying again. We humans consume so much it’s crazy.

Greyscale - apologies for going off topic a bit. Your Doc Martens reminiscence just made me flash back on the “it” boots of MY day - Frye Campus boots. Got my pair before heading off to college. Thanks Mom.