Until recently, Zara, a major international clothing retailer and pioneer of ‘fast fashion’ principles, kept almost half of its production in Spain and Portugal, earning the reputation of being one of the exceptions to globalization. Since the 1980s, the existence of such exceptions has been fueling an expectation that the production of high-quality fashion garments and tailored suits would remain in the industrialized core. Here I revisit this expectation in the light of the current seminal change in the culture of fashion from ready-to-wear to fast fashion, and report that the increased variety and fashionability associated with fast fashion, represented by Zara, have tilted the balance of competitive advantage towards, rather than away from, firms in partially industrialized countries. As a number of supplier firms in countries such as Morocco, India and Turkey have gained the competence to manufacture intricately worked high-quality garments with the required flexibility and speed, Zara has turned to sourcing from these countries. It appears that instead of Zara changing the geography of jobs, the geography of competencies and jobs has changed Zara.

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