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Zara and her Sisters: An eye opening tale

By: Kanika Mehta


Last Updated: April 14, 2011, 14:39 IST

Zara and her Sisters: An eye opening tale

Zara and her Sisters is a tale of the rise of a fashion house in Spain to the dizzying heights on the global map.

Zara and her Sisters is an eye opening tell tale of the rise of a fashion house in Spain to the dizzying heights on the global map. The label is listed among the hundred most valuable companies in the world. The insightful book reveals the secrets behind Zara's success and how the creator Amancio Ortega turned it into a global market fashion success.

Enrique Badia, a former journalist, has carefully chosen the chapter names to engage the reader. For a student of fashion or a writer of corporate profiles, this seems the right approach but to a regular reader, the pattern fails to hold the attention. The language is far from effortless and moves at a snail's pace leaving a cloud of boredom on the reader. Chronicling the growth of Ortega's label from 1975, this is a journey of a giant textile house triumph. The charm is lost when it is more so a case study, and a study alone. Interwoven into the text of Zara's success is author's acknowledgement of the shaping up of the brand and consequent success. Badia states in the introduction, “In the hands of Amancio Ortega lies the story of a business with little, if any, precedent in Spain.”

How do they do it? Is it possible for academics and practitioners to learn something from their particular experience? Would people setting up their own business learn few tricks to master the customer's mind? Enrique Badia covets to answer these and other related questions by focusing on the history of the corporation behind the success of Zara, Inditex. The recount of this kaleidoscopic history is based on a plethora of sources. The blossoming relation between
Amancio Ortega and his expansion plans, his first attempt at the formal launch and its failure only to rise as a phoenix.

If anything, this book just makes me want to read a more thorough biography of Zara or maybe Ortega himself. Inditex is one of the world's biggest clothesline distributor and the book also talks about the various chains under this house of fashion apart from its best selling retail brand Zara. Badia describes the seventies as a time when “a large proportion of society was becoming more concerned with how to dress...” An astonishing fact is also revealed- Amancio Ortega spent a staggering 15 year period as a shop assistant, a battleground where he gained his expertise and knowledge. During this tenure he generated numerous ideas aboutdistribution and how to maintain his clientele.

But the path treaded by the author has blocks that break your attention and snatch your interest as they jump from a chapter on Concept to the one on Logistics. A similar job, but well done, was by Karen Karbo. She highlighted the Coco Chanel inspired wealth of trends in her book The Gospel According to Coco Chanel. The humane aspect behind larger than life label comes across and makes you feel her fearlessness, inner strength and confidence and how her legacy is one of the most fascinating stories in the world. Karbo's writing radiated wit and humour and it reflected her personal enthusiasm for the legend that is Chanel.

Badia, however fails to create the magic. A good chronicle of a story foretold, the book however lacks the panache that should have come about reading such a fantastic study of the retail world. Badia's book dwells into conceptualization, gestation ideation, management models and logistics. One could safely skip information that is tad too dreary and a lackluster. If you yearn for gratuitous information pick this one.
first published:April 14, 2011, 14:39 IST
last updated:April 14, 2011, 14:39 IST