Why I buy suits from Zara


I disposed of the last of my Hugo Boss suits last weekend. They were great looking suits in their time, and they still held up well, but some of them were over 5 years old and they looked odd when I put them on. I used to love Boss suits, especially in the 1980s when they made them in West Germany and they took the time to make them fine.

However, I haven’t bought a suit from Hugo Boss (or any high end line) for years. Instead I buy my suits from Zara. I do that for a number of reasons:

Price: in Toronto, a high end suit that’s not on sale can cost between $1000 to $2000, if not more: a typical Zara suit costs less than $300-$400. On sale they can cost less than $200.

Style: I like my suits to be stylish but not too stylish (hence Hugo Boss and not Gaultier). Zara’s men suits have that. Even if you wear the suit often (like a charcoal gray one that I picked up a few years ago) and it starts to come apart after 3-4 years, it is very likely at that point that cut of the suit, the style of the lapels or the position of the buttons will look outdated and you will want to replace it. During that time the suit cost you $100 per year vs $400 to $700. You can use the $300 to $500 you saved for something other than suits. (If, like me, you have kids, I am sure you can think of lots of other things you can do with that money.)

Quality: the standard suit at Zara is a very lightweight wool (mind you, Zara changes a lot, but last time I checked, that was true). And that fabric drycleans well, is wearable most of the year and it looks great. Once the low end suit makers used non natural fibres for their suits. Zara uses mostly wool, although for the spring/summer lines they also feature cotton — a drycleaners dream suit! —  and linen. You can find better quality wool in high end suits, but you pay considerably more for that.

While the fabric is good, the overall construction of the suits is not bad but not great. I have had one suit pucker on me after a few months (it was final sale, which meant I couldn’t return it, alas). And I expect none of pants to last longer than 3-4 yrs. But so what; I’ll be tired of the suit by then and I won’t feel bad about ditching it.

Convenience: Zaras are everywhere it seems, and there are a number of them in Toronto. So are discount stores like Winners. But buying a suit at a discount store is really hit and miss (although the one on Bloor near Avenue Road in Toronto has a great selection with high end lines like Armani, Valentino and Costume National…highly recommended). And like a lot of guys I want to go in and get it done. Zara is great for that.

Finally, Zara isn’t perfect. I’m not a fan of their shoes (I prefer Browns, B2 or even Aldo for casual shoes). And their sweaters are “meh”. For really really basic stuff like t-shirts and casual wear, I go to H+M or even Old Navy or Walmart (I bought “George” stretch t-shirts for $8 that cost $25 at the Gap and other places.) Club Monaco I also like for coordinates, although they cost more than Zara (their slacks are better constructed, though, or at least used to be.) Same with Banana Republic: nicer clothes than Zara but I find better value in Zara.

Now if money were no object, I would have closets full of Prada and Armani and Jo Ghost shoes (ok, I do have a lot of the last one) but I am a middle class guy with two kids and all the costs associated with that. But I still like to look sharp. So I head to Zara.

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41 responses to “Why I buy suits from Zara

  1. Nice to know another Zara buyer!

  2. Great articles great stuff

  3. works for me! never had a zara suit before, but i’m online to replace a few of the suits i have had. a little too boxy…want a more slim and modern cut, and from what it seems, they have that in a price range i can afford.

    thx!

    • smartpeopleiknow

      There are other places that may have that cut, but like you said, the price is right at Zara, and at least in many cities, it is easy to find a store. Let me know how it works out!

  4. Hey Bernie, if you visit me here in Tokyo, you can go shopping at Zara, I’ll take you :-). Don’t ask me about prices, as I didn’t check them (sorry, I don’t normally shop at Zara, I’m not as fashionable as you).

    PS. This must be a good post, you are still getting comments 9 months later!

  5. let me tell you today i roamed around all over houston to buy me a suit for my wedding, went to armani,prada,versace etc and then i had it for the and then i thought i havn’t checked at Zara yet as i was about to Galleria Mall.
    I went inside and first thing that i saw was brilliance, charcoal grey very minimal shine to make it stylish and fitted me so well as if it was made for me. It was THE SUIT for my wedding. I bought it for 300$ which is a very nice price, i just loved it, now can’t wait to get married and wear that suit. 🙂

  6. Does Zara also sell suits for teenagers? I got a 16 year old son and i’ll been meaning to take him out to buy a nice suit for specials occasions.

    • smartpeopleiknow

      Alex, it depends on the size of your son. They have suits from size 38 up to 46 I think (those are US sizes for men). If he is bigger like a football or basketball player, then he should be fine. However even if he is smaller, he might be fine, since they make alot of “slim” suits that are perfect for younger men who are thinner than middle aged men, for example.

      Try to make sure the suit fits. Obviously pants can be hemmed and taken in to fit. For the jacket, do these 3 tests. Have him put on a jacket and stand up straight and put his arms down to his side. If he curls his fingers, the bottom of the jacket should just sit in his hand. If it is above his hand it is too short (unless it is a very trendy jacket) and if it sits in his hand it is too long. As well as doing this, you should also have him pull the lapels forward and then down and then slide his hand into where his heart is and push out. If that is hard to do, then the suit is too small around the chest. on the other hand, if there is alot of give, then the suit is too big. There should be a little room, but it should “fit” the chest area. Final test is to have him move his arms a bit and his shoulders, then stand up straight. If the back of the jacket collar is too far from the back of his neck, then it is too big. (Make sure he has a dress shirt on when he does this).

      Don’t let sales people try to get you to buy a jacket that doesn’t fit. Some will. If you are going to spend money on a suit, make sure it fits in the pants and especially the jacket.

      Good luck!

      Bernie

  7. I tried on a few suits at Zara today and I have the following general comment: the shoulder pads are not set correctly and the sleeve pitch is off. When standing straight facing the mirror, the sleeves pucker just below the shoulder — sleeve needs to be rotated correctly. This was the case with all the jackets I tried in 38R, and I also saw the same malady on a larger suit being fitted by another customer. Opinions?

  8. Interesting, and not very good. I haven’t tried on a suit this year. Perhaps the quality has declined. Certainly if it was for a range of jackets, that’s not good.

    I am not sure if they source from a single supplier for suits, or if it is a range of suppliers. I did note at one time that alot of their suits were made in Turkey, but Turkey is a big country and there could be several suppliers.

    I’d be interested in knowing if you still found that to be true if you checked out a new line of suits that come in a few months from now.

    Thanks for the comment.

  9. Hello. I’m graduating from undergrad this year and was looking into hugo boss
    For this grand occasion. Although I’m not paying for it I’d like to still save some money.
    I’m checking out this Zara tomorrow….any other suggestions?

    • smartpeopleiknow

      Well there are a range of makers of men’s suits. I believe Calvin Klein’s CK label is between Zara and Boss in terms of cost and quality. That’s one you can look at. Alot depends on what you can get where you live. For example, I once picked up a Romeo Gigli suit for under $50 at a discount store. That was incredible, and sometimes with good discount stores you can find great deals.

      Ideally, get a suit with 80-90% natural fibres (e.g. light weight wool with just a bit of synthetic material to make it more interesting) and make sure it fits you physically and personally. (In other words, if you don’t feel comfortable in it, don’t buy it). If you can meet those criteria for a price you can afford, you will do well.

  10. I am about to buy a light maroon zara suit (70% wool, 30% silk). Do you think this is a good choice for professional interviews? I know silk is probably not prefered for interviews but this suit fitted me relly well & I am in a hurry to buy. What’s your opinion? Also, is it Okay to wear brown shoes to interviews or is it a no-no..? (The place I am talking about is UK,if that helps)

    • smartpeopleiknow

      It all depends on the culture of the organization and the look of the suit. Without any knowledge of the place, I do know that maroon and brown shoes should look great together. Indeed, if you tie it all together with the right shirt and tie, you will look very sharp, especially if it fits you well. And that should give a strong positive impression. Silk can make suit look good, though if it adds too much sheen, it could look too casual or ironically too formal. You don’t want that, I don’t think. Try to keep the suit on the conservative side, and jazz things up with ties and shirts.

      The UK is more liberal than the US, generally, and Italy and Spain more liberal still. That said, what is important is knowing how people dress at the organizations you will be applying too. Banking firms will have different needs than advertising/communications, for example.

  11. took a look at zara and everything i saw was >50% synthetic. never had anything but wool suits (or a wool and natural fibre combo).

    • smartpeopleiknow

      Hmmm. Well, I wrote that post a few years ago, so manybe things have changed. I have to go back and take a closer look, but at least in the Zaras I shop in, they will have a dress suit section that has wool suits and slacks/pants. They have more casual jackets and suits too, which may be > 50% synthetic.

  12. I have to go back and take a closer look, but at least in the Zaras I shop in, they will have a dress suit section that has wool suits and slacks/pants. They have more casual jackets and suits too, which may be > 50% synthetic.valuesuit.com

  13. It is quite clear that the poster and the people who have left comments don’t know the first thing about suits.

    Your suits should not fall apart in 4 years. Buy a decent non-fused, preferably fully canvassed suit in a traditional cut and it should last you 8-10 years if not more.

    If your suits go out of style, you are buying the wrong suits….

    P.S. Hugo Boss is fused and complete junk for the price. Don’t ever pay more then 250$ for a HB suit. Zara is also junk but at least under $200 you’re not flushing too much money down the toilet.

    In Toronto, try Samuelsohn at Harry Rosen. You can get it for $1,000 and maybe even less on sale. Fully Canvassed, life-long alterations included. Choose a more durable fabric. You only need one Navy and one Charcoal suit as both these can cover you for any occasion. That’s $2,000 for 10 years so $200/year…and you won’t look like the tacky guy who wears Zara suits.

    • Sure, if you have $2000 and you think you are going to want to wear the same suit for ten years, that a good way to do things.

      However, the title isn’t “Why You Should Buy Suits at Zara”, it’s “Why I Buy Suits at Zara”. Personally, I am not interested in wearing the same two suits for ten years. And the quality of the suit doesn’t have to be that good for my needs. Suits are just one of many things I have to get. To me I wear them from time and time, and I get tired of them after a few years and wish to replace them.

      Definitely having a good non-fused suit is preferable. For that matter, a tailored suit is most preferable. Again it all comes down to money.

      I’d be surprised if there are any suits at Harry Rosen for under $1000, but I could be wrong. The last time I bought a suit there was over 20 years ago – a black linen Hugo Boss – and that was $850 back then. But times change, and maybe there are suits there or that price.

  14. “I get tired of them after a few year”

    I don’t even know what that means.

    You’re article is called “Why I Buy Suits at Zara” as you mention but what I’m trying to say is your arguments for supporting your conclusion are faulty.

    Price: The price/wear is much lower on a canvassed suit with a durable fabric…especially when it comes with free tailoring forever. It definitely won’t fall apart in 3-4 years like your Boss/Zara suits.

    Style: You shouldn’t be buying “Fashion” suits in the first place. A nicely styled suit is always appropriate. Fashion comes and goes. Style is timeless. A 2-button notch lapel navy suit with a subtle pattern (or no pattern) will never be “outdated”. Don’t go for ridiculously small lapels or ridiculously large ones and you’ll be all set.

    Quality: That word should not be used for anything resembling Zara or Boss. At a minimum go with a Z Zegna half-canvassed.

    Convenience: A suit is not a daily purchase so forget convenience. Better yet, just buy the suit online and get it altered by your tailor.

    and I forgot to mention that even if you don’t like your suit after a few years because you want a new one that goes with the dumb new fashion trends, you can always sell it on eBay for a few hundred dollars.

    Just saying…

  15. smartpeopleiknow

    In Toronto, Holt Renfrew has a range of suits, from fully canvassed ones like Zegna and Canali to the lower end Z and others. Fully canvassed go for $2000-$3000, which I suspect is the going rate. (I just checked.) So two suits would set you back around $4-6000. That said, there are sales around this time of year, including on Zegna, and if you are flexible, you could get a suit for around half that price. Those are great suits: no doubt about that.

    I don’t get the idea of going to the lower end Z line if you want a suit that is going to last 10 years. Those suits use fusing too, and they have a younger cut (e.g. slimmer and not so conservative). I imagine the cut and fabric is still superior to alot of others suits, however.

    Like alot of things, when it comes to buying suits, I recommend you buy the best one you can afford, considering how many times you will wear it, what you wear it for, etc. Get one that meets your needs, whether they are Dave’s or mine.

  16. I gotta give this to you Bernie: you are a very patient person, and a gentleman. Boy, what a pain in the neck.

    • smartpeopleiknow

      Thanks for the compliment, Aaron. Actually, I learned some things, and I confirmed my beliefs. It was worthwhile. Good criticism is always worthwhile, and I think Dave’s criticisms were good ones.

  17. I have been buying nearly all my suits at Zara for these same reasons. I fully agree: a suit will only go so long, no matter the quality. At some point, you just want something fresh, if only for psychological reasons. I just “retired” my oldest one, which I bought in 2004, and most other ones I have are 4-5 years old so I’m definitely looking forward to get new ones. Mind you, most are still wearable, even after having been worn to work every single day.

    Another point is that your size may change over time. In the last 5 years, I gained 20 lbs, then lost it, then started pumping weights and my chest, arms and legs are now bigger. So buying suits at 1K-2K a piece back then by thinking I would have kept these for 10 years wouldn’t have been a smart move.

    To me, Zara suits strike the right balance, even though I’m not getting the best fit or quality, but it works for me. And besides, except for a minority of people, who can tell it’s a Zara suit and not a Boss? And then, who really cares? Maybe buy one or two for special occasions if that makes you feel better. Otherwise, like the ING guy would say… save your money!

  18. While shopping for a suit for my boyfriend, I noticed that different Zara carries suits made from different places, and personally, I think the ones made in Bulgaria are generally better. As with all off-the-rack suits, the Zara suits my boyfriend got don’t fit him perfectly (he’s very tall and wide). Now, he mostly buys from Indochino and LUXE COLLECTION (www.luxecollection.ca), LUXE COLLECTION is a little more expensive than Indochino as they’re bespoke tailored-made suits measured by an actual tailor, whereas Indochino’s are made-to-measured and you will have to input the measurements yourself (which we had no idea how to do even after looking at the pictures on Indochino).

  19. Has anyone asked a Chinese tailor to make them a handwashable polyester suit in the best pattern. I think a beautifully designed suit should always look good no matter how many years/trends have passed.

  20. I don’t know about 2008 but nowadays their fabrics are 50% polyester (or some other synthetic) which makes them quite hot and sweaty to weat, especially during more warmer months. As for Boss or George Sand which I prefer, these are always 100% virgin wool

  21. I went to 7 different shops in Adelaide and found a better cut women’s skirt suit for 130AUSD in Zara than suits in Saba, Jigsaw or Veronica Maine that cost 600AUSD.

  22. You know nothing about suits if you claim that if price were no object you’d go for prada. Bespoke if you have the money, or at the very least a fully-canvassed suit. Everything you’ve mentioned are half-canvassed or fused, and machine made. And in my experience, looking on the various labels on Zara suits, many are polyester/wool blends. The suits like Armani and Versace are fine for an suit for the club, but every tailor or clothier worth his salt will tell you these are not good suits

    “Ideally, get a suit with 80-90% natural fibres (e.g. light weight wool with just a bit of synthetic material to make it more interesting)”….I can’t believe ANYONE would say that. 100% wool ONLY, or in the hotter climates at least all natural fibers. There’s nothing interesting about a cheap polyester suit that’ll be shiny after getting pressed.

    Ps. Everybody here is talking about brands brand brands! Hugo Boss, et al. is no good! Machine made and fused! Go to a clothier! They will show you a great suit in the $300-$500 price range will 100% wool and FULLY CANVASSED.

    Source: Worked as a clothier for 7 years selling suits. Remember: A great 100% wool suit doesn’t have to cost a huge ammount of
    money!

    • smartpeopleiknow

      I thought about deleting your comment, but I am going to include it for the sake of pointing out that you clearly read none of the comments that came afterwards. I hope this will discourage other people who come along and take a similar approach. If you had read the whole thing, you would have realized that we covered alot of the material that you already talked about. I don’t know why you bothered to write this.

      I did go and do some research before. At least in Toronto, there are NO suits that are fully canvassed in the $300-500 range. (See above comments.) The notion that you can get a bespoke suit for anywhere in the range of off the rack is ridiculous. Moreover, if you knew something about cloth, you’d know that a small amount of artificial material (less than 20%) gives the cloth qualities that a 100% wool or linen or cotton suit doesn’t possess. No one said anything about a 100% polyster suit. As for the Prada comment, it was just thrown in.

      That’s all I have to say on this. If you have any constructive comments, I will include them. Otherwise, in the trash they’ll go.

  23. Hi there– Great article, and the comments were quite helpful as well. What about Moore’s suits…? The monthly ‘buy one get one free’ sales seem tempting, but the Zara suits sound great as well…

  24. I liked you article. I bought my first Blazer from a Zara store, in the UK, which is 100% wool, made in Turkey, £119. I cannot tell the difference (time will tell) between my half canvassed suit (3 piece suit that never really fitted) jacket from Paul Smith that obviously costs £920 at full retail and has the sticker “made in Italy” inside.
    The Blazer from Zara is now at my tailor (it needs waist supression and sleeves shortening). The thing is: my Zara Blazer in size 46 is equivalent at the shoulder width than my Blazer from Brooks Brothers (half canvassed, £300) with the Fitzgerald cut in size 42.

    By the way: I sometimes follow styleforum and know all the arguments surrounding cancer-healing bespoke suit tales. Surely it is ridiculous and simply stupid to claim a bespoke suit (shoes, wrist watches with automatic movements, etc.) will last forever and will automatically fit better. As if a bespoke suit or the wearers body shape will not go out of style.

    I tried another 100% wool suit at Zara and must honestly say quality seems good for the price and it “drapes” well. I think canvassing methods must have improved dramatically in the past few years. I owned a cheap wool blend suit from Marks&Spencer and it never felt of good quality and canvassing was obvious. But it didn’t fell apart and no bubbling after many dry cleaning excercises.
    But my expensive Paul Smith suit starts to falling apart after 11 month (I often need to restitch parts of the suit).

  25. All the Zara suits I saw in Bahrain were made of synthetic fibres – 100%. It would have been ok if it were a blend. The suits were cheap yes, but sadly they also looked quite cheap. I wish they were wool.

  26. I totally agree, suits and blazers are a good value proposition in Zara. I bought a number of casual blazers there and they are still mostly in good condition even after a few years. I do not wear suits for work, but I recently needed one for an occasion, and I bought one at Zara (I lost weight and the old ones are too big). Seems fine, I also like the fit of the blazers and trousers, not baggy. I had bad experience with jumpers and casual trousers, they really don’t last, the shoes I have, on the other hand are OK.

  27. I love the Zara suits, but I simply will not enter the Zara stores here in Prague. They suck. They have more security than a bank in South Central and they mean sons of bitches too, staring at their consoles and customers like they are the Kings of Zara or something. I love the Zara styles they have, the prices are good and I have a few suits I picked up at home, one of them is a Zara Basic. But honestly, if they can’t manage their stores and turn them over to the Czechs, who make a clothing store into a concentration camp, I’m not interested in shopping there.

  28. Zara does have some really great suits. The cuts are great and the fabric used is just as good. One thing I’m not fond of though is the skinny pants – I still believe in classic straight-leg cuts.

  29. Great post, informative and compelling. I too have the same opinion and experience about suits even up to now. I bought some ridiculously expensive suits when I was in high-school because I had the money, living at home and having a $16/hr job that I worked like a full-time and a half.

    So I had a Boss, an Armani and a Portfolio. Which were great at that time but not any more. Zara suits are absolutely practical and in style – period. And unless you have an un-ending supply of funds, it pays to check them out!

    As for now, I will look forward to the day when I can afford those suits again. But instead of buying them, I will donate the difference from buying those practical suits the likes of Zara.

  30. hey Bernie,love the article. i am a very slim guy so i tend to have trouble fitting into most suits,so i tried out zara’s black tag slim fit suits (these ones are 80%-100% wool). the suit jacket fits me fine but the pants are too skinny. my dad makes fun of me saying that they look like pantyhose haha. i myself am not into the “skinny fit” style,and it seems like that style will be out real soon. i like a slim narrower fit but not skinny fit.(i realized that all their pants are pretty much like that) i checked the inside of the pants to see if there was any extra fabric so that a tailor can let it out but there wasn’t any. what would you suggest i do? get a bigger size pant and tailor the waist? or where else can i find a nice 80%-100% quality wool suit with a true slim fit? (price ranging till around $700)

    • smartpeopleiknow

      Thanks for the comment, Mickey. Yes, you are right: Zara tends to make slim fitting suits. They and lots of other clothes makers, too. It looks good on those it fits, but that seems to be a minority. And they likely don’t have extra fabric in them to keep the cost down.

      It can be hard to mix and match pieces. You could do a navy or black blazer and a light coloured pant, but that is more casual looking and less of a suit. Or you could try places like Banana Republic: their suits costs more than Zara, but they have some bigger sizes. Or you could look for Calvin Klein or other men’s clothiers that operate in malls. They will do slim cuts and larger cuts.

      Finally, discount places will get you a good suit for that money if you are willing to look. But it is more work then. Good luck! Let me know what you find!

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