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John Ryan

Zara Becomes Gallery-Like in Paris

The retailer recently opened on Paris’ Champs-Élysées




LOOK AT MUSEUM “shops” and they still feel like adjuncts to museums, give or take a few erasers and branded pencils, with large number of items displayed as if you were in still in the galleries. Yet they seek to be regarded as retailers … and to an extent they are getting increasingly slick at following retail’s edicts.

Yet among the retailer fraternity proper, there seems to be a shift towards looking and feeling like a gallery and if an instance of this were needed, look no further than the newly opened, beautifully restrained branch of Zara on Paris’ Champs-Élysées.

Rather than filling the mid-shop and the perimeter with merchandise, this is a store in which there are a succession of “rooms” with lots of space to move and a setting that wouldn’t look out of place in, say, parts of the Met or maybe MoMA in New York. The idea that underpins the whole thing is to promote the Inditex brand as upscale, and in many ways this Zara store looks a bit like a branch of designer label Acne or something similarly low-key and minimalist.

Zara Becomes Gallery-Like in Paris

The stock density may be lower than other Zara stores, but a lot of inventory has nonetheless been fitted into the space, so shoppers won’t go wanting. And if you expect your local art gallery to have sculptures dotted around then something of the kind can be found in the Zara Champs-Élysées, where screens with fashion content are artfully angled and positioned between mannequin groupings.

The “less is more” mantra does seem to have been applied in this instance and the outcome is a store in which the sense is that the items on the rails are curated, precious and worthy of admiration … exactly the qualities that would be expected of a museum or the very sparing displays in a store offering designer wares.


In total, Zara Champs-Élysées is very good and the only real question that needs answering is what do all the big labels do in order to counteract this apparent invasion of their backyard?

John Ryan is a journalist covering the retail sector, a role he has fulfilled for more than a decade. As well as being the European Editor of VMSD magazine, he writes for a broad range of publications in the U.K., the U.S. and Germany with a focus on in-store marketing, display and layout, as well as the business of store architecture and design. In a previous life, he was a buyer for C&A, based in London and then Düsseldorf, Germany. He lives and works in London.



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