To much of the world both Zara and Mango (MNG as the latter is known in Australia) are just two high-street stores that loom over virtually every street corner. And in those cities of saturation one might consider that there’s no competition: like Zara’s 8 million+ Facebook fans to Mango’s sub-2 million, the former simply overshadows the latter. But what about those places in which Zara’s presence hasn’t yet been felt?
Zara of course have a power that cannot be understated. They’re a manufacturing powerhouse. A fashion brand that wins not on fashion, but on logistics. It’s no real surprise that they could come in and sweep the Australian fashion scene like a gargantuan broom; nor is it really a surprise that, with Zara’s first stores only now opening in Australia, our retail scene turned out to be just dust for the sweeping.
Take MNG (Mango). MNG have a handful of stores in Australia but have never generated the same buzz that Zara created recently with their first Australian store opening. But MNG turn out on-trend collections with a similar finesse to Zara. They’re of a comparable quality. The price-point too is similar. They both stem from Spanish roots. To put none to fine a point on it, MNG has been – for years now – the closet thing Australia has ever had to a Zara. (Those who’ve never visited Australia may be surprised to discover zero presence of H&M or Topshop or the various other huge-name chain stores that dominate most of the rest of the world). But being the first, or the longest running, doesn’t necessarily equate to success.
This is something a lot of brands are finally realising. The formula for success in the last century is now dead and buried: it’s not enough to be first, you have to be the best. Or the biggest, or the most buzz-worthy. And you have to stay on your toes. Otherwise the competition will come in and sweep you away. Take Apple and their iPhone. A late comer to the mobile phone scene, it has made the generational success of Nokia a thing of the past. And as it is for the tech industry, so it is for fashion.
Unlike Mango around the world, Australia’s MNG seem to do little to make their presence known. We don’t get bombarded with their celebrity campaigns, their collaborations, their marketing efforts. And for their own sake they should be doing more to make sure we see all of those things. Things such as Mango’s most recent campaign featuring Josephine de la Baume; it follows a trend of the retailer producing good quality campaigns, with on-trend looks that are about as effective as high-street campaigns get (see also Eniko Mihalik’s Colors & Stripes for another recent example).
Having squandered their years of having a default (but not actively fostered) presence in Australia, Mango / MNG now have two problems. One is Zara descending upon Melbourne and Sydney like a cyclone with intent to consume all and shake up an already lack-lustre retail scene. Two is the decline of fast-fashion itself in the face of the new luxury being less-is-more and more-is-better-quality. Australia with it’s comparatively desolate high-street landscape could have been one place that MNG had a chance of success; now, unless they step up their game, they’ll be another post-Zara casualty in the fast fashion war.