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Making catwalk trends available and affordable is Zara's forte

By Cathy Martin

I am a very big fan of Zara and have been for years. Their selling point is interpreting catwalk fashions very quickly and manufacturing the clothes for the middle and lower end of the market.

I mainly shop in Zara for work clothes like pencil skirts and blouses. For the most part, the clothes are very well manufactured, though the fabric quality may not always be good in everything.

While a lot of their clothes are manufactured in different countries, they have kept a certain amount of production in Spain where the parent company, Inditex, is based, which shows a good approach to corporate social responsibility as they are giving back to the Spanish economy.

I have been missing the Belfast store since it closed. In fact, the last time I was in London I picked up a few pieces - including a navy leather pencil skirt for £70 - as I knew the store would be closed in Belfast for the time being.

All in all, I have about 15 black dresses from Zara. While you might be able to buy something fairly expensive in Zara - such as the leather pencil skirt - if they have one expensive item they will also sell another version at a lower price point.

I remember being in Seville around 2002 and finding a Zara outlet store, and I bought so much stuff I had to buy a second suitcase to bring it all home.

Another great thing is the very cool, modern lay-out of the stores and how they are merchandised. Everyone in my office loves Zara - I don't know any woman who isn't a fan. When it comes to affordable fashion, Spain - which includes Mango -definitely has the edge over France.

But France has the edge when it comes to higher-level fashion with Chloe, Kenzo and Chanel.

But the Spaniards have proven they can take the catwalk look and make it at an affordable price.

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