Zara is a Spanish clothing and accessories brand based in Arteixo, Galicia. It was founded by Amancio Ortega and Rosalía Mera. They opened the first Zara store in 1975, and their original product line featured inexpensive lookalike products of popular designer fashions. The store was highly successful, and Ortega began opening more Zara stores throughout Spain.
During the 1980s, Ortega started changing the design, manufacturing, and distribution process of Zara to enable quick production of fashions in response to current trends. The company took advantage of improvements in information technology, and the economy of scale achieved by using groups of designers. Ortega describes his method and the company's offerings as "instant fashions." How quickly a design can be turned out is rumored to be just two weeks, from development to placement in stores. This contrasts sharply with the six-month industry average. As a result of its streamlined processes, Zara is able to launch around thousands of new designs each year. The rapid appearance and disappearance of a given design builds excitement in Zara's customers.
Zara has resisted the industry-wide trend towards transferring fast fashion production to inexpensive foreign labor. Zara is part of the Inditex group, which was founded in 1985 as the primary holding company of Zara's enterprises. Inditex is one of the world's largest distribution companies, which is integral to Zara's "instant fashion" concept, and also serves other retailers held by Inditex.
Another unusual strategy was Zara's policy of zero advertising. Funds that most businesses invest in advertising are instead set aside for the opening of new stores.
In 1980, the company started its international expansion, opening a store in Porto, Portugal. In 1989 it entered the United States and in 1990, it expanded to France, in the first of a series of international expansions in the decade. As of 2011, Zara has retail presence in 78 countries.
Zara stores are company-owned unless local legislation forbids foreign-owned businesses. Zara franchises their stores in these markets.
Zara expanded into home goods in 2003, and began offering fragrances, in collaboration with esteemed Spanish perfume house Puig, starting in 1998.