Marks & Spencer may be the country’s biggest clothing retailer but women prefer Zara, according to a survey by a company headed by one of M&S’s former bosses, Sir Stuart Rose.
A third of 40,000 women asked for their favourite fashion brand by the online recommendation site Dressipi - chaired by Sir Stuart, who ran M&S for three years until last January - chose Spanish-owned Zara.
Another fast fashion, Sweden’s H&M, came second, followed by Sir Philip Green’s Topshop, River Island, Next and Mango.
Marks & Spencer – which has been criticised for the dowdiness of some of its women’s clothing - came a lowly seventh.
However there was an age divide. Younger women preferred Topshop to Zara and H&M, and older women still backed Marks & Spencer. M&S attracted 27 per cent of votes from 41-50s, 38 per cent of 51-60s and 47 per cent of over 61s.
Primark, known for its low prices, received only 3 per cent of the vote.
The favourite designer brands were Chanel, Joseph and DKNY, 7 All for Mankind, Alexander McQueen and Chloé.
Although not the most popular clothing retailer with younger or older women, Zara triumphed in the website’s Fashion Brands Index for its standing with all age groups.
Owned by Inditex, Zara has dispensed with the four seasons of fashion retailing and clothes remain in its shops for as little as 11 days. It now has 4,000 stores across Europe and opened a three-storey, 1,500 square metre mega-store in Oxford Street, opposite Selfridges, this week.
Dressipi co-founder Sarah McVittie said that the brands that were thriving were those “nimble enough to take advantage of the latest trends and blur the boundaries between catwalk and high street.”
Natalie Theo, the site’s stylist, said: "Zara have mastered the art of rapidly translating catwalk trends into something for the fashion forward consumer who wants to 'do the look' as well as for those consumers who would simply like their new purchases to slip effortlessly into existing wardrobes.”
Shoppers loved the high street for its ability to provide a cheap and fast “fashion fix” but splashed out on designer clothing for a special occasion or to buy a wardrobe classic, Dressipi said.