Monday, May 02, 2011

The Hills of Zara

About 15 years ago, on holiday in Madrid, I saw a pair of shoes in a shop window and fell in love with them. The brand was Spanish and its name was Zara. I bought the shoes (black patent leather, vertiginous heels, t-bar, round toe, 1940s style, with a slender ankle strap that fastened with a button) and wore them till they fell apart. Zara came to London and, when I was in Hong Kong, opened there. It became just another shop to me, albeit somewhere you could always rely on finding cost-effective copies of vastly more expensive catwalk designs, with flair and style and always a little in advance of anyone else on the high street. The clothes were well made for the price (often in China of course) but would start to look shabby fairly quickly.

Apart, perhaps, from the opening of a self-appointed supercool store like Bathing Ape in Queen's Road, Central (they're probably still queuing outside it now), and give-aways of bags of rice or free mah jong sets where some poor old character out for a freebie would always get trampled underfoot by ravening crowds, I never saw anything in Hong Kong quite like the hubbub outside the new Zara in Pitt Street Mall. It's Zara's first store in Australia; even so, the atmosphere, and lines of women queuing outside, were astonishing. As I passed by this morning, on a rather miserable cold day nearly two full weeks after the place opened, there were four people waiting outside at 8.50am.

I know I am perhaps being reactionary, and needless to say I would never dream of joining that queue, but doesn't the very fact that everyone will now be wearing Zara mean that any other brand would in fact be more attractive? Sadly, the other stores were failing to capitalise on this concept; one nearby had resorted, in what looked horribly like desperation, to featuring supersized letters spelling "SEX" and (in much smaller letters) "& fashion" in their window display (pictured above).
Lest anyone think, however, that I've turned my back on fashion and, by implication, am sneering at its acolytes, never fear: I am still as interested in shoes as the next woman, and here are some rather attractive sandals by Zara to prove it. Looks expensive, looks like, maybe, ChloƩ, but costs less than $100? It must be democracy in action.


Anonymous said...

This 'next woman' isn't all that interested in shoes (but I reckon you think I'm a lost cause anyway!) I do feel indignant that things have worked out that women must, to the detriment of their feet, posture, freedom and comfort, walk (effectively) on tiptoe in order to look good...for whom? men, I suspect, but I can hear the cries of derision already, so maybe I should stay quiet, and enjoy my free feet in silence.

LottieP said...

Fair comment, Marg - and i must confess I do sometimes look at my shoes and see instruments of torture.

There is good evidence that women actually wear clothes and shoes for ... other women. Most men don't seem to be that interested in what shoes a woman is wearing.

Claire said...

General Pants. Snigger.

The Jimmy Choos you gave me sit, timelessly elegant, on a display shelf, waiting for the day when I weigh little enough that it won't cripple me to wear them as it would now, supporting my entire 12+ stone on the balls of my feet.