Zara Used to Be Named Something Way More Difficult to Pronounce

Would you say it changed for the better?

Alex-Segre/ShutterstockSince its initial inception in 1975, the Zara brand has rapidly burgeoned into an ubiquitous icon in the fashion industry. The world of fast fashion doesn’t seem complete without its monochrome interior and fluorescent Helvetica logo. Their brilliant business tactic lay in selling affordable clothing in a store that exuded a high-fashion vibe. By establishing a healthy compromise between pricey designer stores and bargain basements, the company has rightly earned its title of one of fashion’s biggest retailers through letting people wear the latest runway trends without breaking the bank. Who said you can’t be fashionable and economical? (Here are 11 fashion tips that will make you look more expensive).

In an article by the New York Times, Zara communications director, Jesus Echevarría, divulged their inspiring success story. According to the story, Inditex, the parent company of its flagship Zara and several other smaller chains, collectively makes around 840 million garments a year and has about 5,900 stores in 85 countries—as of 2012. That number is apparently always changing because Inditex has opened more than a store a day in recent years, which equates to a whopping total of about 500 stores a year. Believe it or not, it can take a new garment as little as 15 days to go from design production to store shelves.

So where did the sartorial story really begin?

In 1975, Amancio Ortega Gaona, the brand’s original founder, decided to open up a small store in La Coruña (a town in northwestern Spain) that specialized in housecoats and robes. As a fan of the critically acclaimed 1974 film Zorba the Greek that had recently been released, he decided to name his creation after it.

The store was initially deemed as Zorba at its inception, but it turned out that Zorba the Greek was quite the popular concept. Gaona was soon approached by the owner of a bar two blocks away that had donned the same exact name. Understandably, the owner complained that it would be way too confusing to have two Zorbas in town (one that sold beer and another that sold clothes), so Gaona was forced to change his label.

To make matters more complicated, Gaona had actually already made the molds for the letters in his sign, so the resourceful mogul decided to be cost-effective and work with what he had. By rearranging some of the mold letters in his possession, he settled on the shorter and snappier Zara. The holding company Inditex was fashioned in 1985 after the company’s international expansion, eventually spiraling into the distinguished sartorial legend responsible for saturating our paychecks on a periodic basis.

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Hana Hong
Hana Hong is a journalist/storyteller who writes for Reader's Digest, InStyle, CollegeFashionista, Her Campus, and The Fashion Network, among other publications. She hails from the midwest, where she graduated from the University of Illinois with a BA in News-Editorial Journalism, but has a passion for the East Coast.