Do you know that feeling when you find something out and think “WHY DOESN’T EVERYONE KNOW ABOUT THIS???”

I got that feeling the other day when I learned what ZARA has been doing for years and is starting to do again literally today.

Today (24.05.2022), Amber Kotrri, a founder of a small boutique in England is facing ZARA in a courtroom over something ridiculous.

I want you to judge for yourselves, but first I need to tell you how we got here…

ZARA has been systematically targeting small businesses for years and each story is as tragic as it is bizarre. I’ve opted for brevity over depth because the long-winded legal terminology surrounding the cases is one of the ways ZARA has been keeping the story under wraps…

The Tayari Family

The Tayari family moved from Iran to the UK and brought with them some amazing spices; their new friends couldn’t get enough.

They recently started a business selling these spices and to make sure their new customers were receiving the most authentic products possible, they continued to source the spices from their hometown.

Zeravand's farmers in Iran, Zaravand

For good reason too; they weren’t just paying tribute to their roots by working with sustainable and eco-friendly farmers that were also friends and family… no, their hometown was famous worldwide for the spices that grew in the foothills, like saffron (or Persian red gold, as it's sometimes known).

So, what could this wholesome family business have done to offend the mighty corporate giant ZARA? Well…

More than 1500 years ago, their hometown of Zarand (formerly Zaravand) was founded in Iran; they had the audacity to pay tribute to an obviously important part of their business and life by calling their new venture “Zaravand”.

ZARA sued them, claiming the people would confuse the two businesses.


As if confusing fast-fashion giant ZARA with a small Iranian spice store wasn’t silly enough, they also insisted that the Tayari family was “diluting the distinctiveness and reputation of the Zara brand”.

There’s a small crater on Mars that’s also named after this town (Zaravand); why isn’t ZARA suing the International Astronomical Union? It just doesn’t make sense.

Or it does, when you consider that one is a tiny family business that they can drown in court fees and the other is a big international organization that they can’t bully.

Which is exactly what they did; they threatened the Tayari family to the point where it came down to either changing their name or giving up their business, even if they didn’t do anything wrong.

When I spoke to the Tayaris, they explained that they did their research; apart from being an obviously very personal name, they checked the IPO listings of businesses and logically concluded that they wouldn’t be challenged when they filed their trademark because no similarly named businesses existed.

But they hadn’t counted on the predatory practices of ZARA’s legal team. From beginning to end, every action and interaction was strategized to cause maximum damage and fear.

When I spoke to them, this is what they said;

“We started ordering our labels but at the last minute, we received a letter of opposition from [ZARA’s lawyers].
I believe the last-minute opposition is a tactic their lawyers use, I’m sure they knew much earlier about our TM registration. Just a ploy to pile the pressure.
The cost came when we had to ask our lawyers to get in touch with their lawyers to resolve the matter. Little did we know that they were not even interested. They accepted that Zaravand is the name of a town but that was not important, all they wanted was for us to change our TM.
We then decided to fight for our TM but it was not cheap to correspond, and finally, it became clear they would be happy to take us to court, they knew it would be financial suicide for us to go to court even if there would be a good chance of winning, the initial costs would be back-breaking for us.”


Zaravand rebranded.

This isn’t a movie; this is a real family with real bills being abused by a giant company that was never in danger of losing business or sleep over this. And this wasn’t the first or last time.

Juhi Jain

Juhi Jain told me she put “all [her] time, energy and money into building something of [her] own and Zara took it all away”. She is an Indian shoemaker making hand-embroidered designs inspired by Persian stylings.

Juhi Jain

For example, have you heard of Zardozi? It’s a type of elaborate embroidery on a fabric base and the word itself comes from two Persian words coming together: zar meaning “gold” and dozi meaning “sewing”.


The reason I’m telling you this is so you can see just how much Juhi wasn’t thinking about ZARA when she named her venture; using a common naming technique, she also took "zar" meaning "gold" and the word "sa" meaning "like"; to create a new word that meant “Like Gold” in Persian.


In a video interview she did, she explains in detail;

“Ok so this is the old logo; this is Zarsa. It's white and gold, the font is not similar, the design is not similar, you never see the logo just as the word but you have to see the logo in total...

So it's… I don't know how would ZARA see it similar to their brand name…”

The reason she refers to it as the “old logo” is because they forced her to change it, twice.

She initially changed it to ZarsaLife, all one word with again a very different design, but they pushed even more aggressively. Facing ruin, she finally relented and changed it to Sozan. Because the thing a budding small-business needs is multiple expensive pointless branding changes; that really seals in the customer base, as you know.

Sozan Shoes

Juhi's handcrafted shoes.

From our conversation;

“ZARA's challenge to our name impacted us in every way possible as we were trying to build a brand. It affected our process, and sales, we had spent a lot of money on brand building, marketing and sales, and all that money, time and effort were wasted.”

Does ZARA think they own every Z-sounding word now, in every language? The more people I talked to, the more ridiculous it all became. What if somebody’s name was actually Zara, what would they do then?

Zara McLaughlin

Last year, ZARA went after a 23-year-old pottery-maker Zara McLaughlin.

Back then, Zara worked in her grandparent’s garage and made unique plates, bowls and cups to sell online. She went by the name Zara Ceramics on Instagram for obvious reasons, and when one of her TikTok videos went viral, ZARA the fast-fashion behemoth went in for the kill.

Real Zara

Zara McLaughlin the potter started receiving an aggressive barrage of emails from ZARA’s legal team demanding that she change her brand immediately or she would be sued into financial ruin.

Hands up who’s starting to see a pattern here? And who thought this would end with ZARA suing Mrs McLaughlin for naming her daughter Zara in the first place? Because it feels like anything goes at this point…

This is what the real Zara told me;

“I battled back and forth until I found a legal loophole. Because my name is Zara they can't take that away from me. I rebranded to ZaraLMcLaughlin Studio but they still aren't happy and said if people get us confused in the future they will seek further legal action but the reality is they have stepped back from me now because there really isn't much more they can do, It's my name and nobody can take that away from me.

It was frustrating and incredibly heartbreaking at the time but I'm happy that I got to keep 'Zara' in my business title, one thing that I thought I was going to lose forever.”

Real Zara studio

And so this brings us to today...


Before I tell you about Amber’s upcoming David-vs-Goliath-style battle, let me tell you about the business she’s poured her heart into.

She founded a small-but-chic boutique focused on sustainable fashion, so there’s the first reason nobody would ever confuse them for ZARA…


Paying homage to her family’s Albanian roots, she took the Albanian language’s word for fairy (zana) as she felt the way the local seamstresses were bringing their designs to life was actually magical. From their bio;

“Here [in the UK] we house over twenty local, emerging independent brands. The mission is to give start-up brands the help and space they need to grow and Amber believes we are stronger together.”

It made perfect sense to call their business “House of Zana” as that was what they felt it was; a house of fairies, bringing unique designs into the world.


Amber Kotrri with her team.

How could anybody confuse this fashion-positive atmosphere for anything ZARA related? ZARA, the company that famously refused to pay their workers a living wage. ZARA, the clothing giant that steals runway designs and makes cheap copies. That ZARA?

That ZARA is at it again today, but Amber says she’s not backing down. When we first spoke, she gave me a list of other small businesses that this had happened to. I contacted them all, but several refused to speak up out of fear of… well, ZARA.

And to be honest, I don’t blame them; if I was facing the end of my business and the ability to pay the bills for the foreseeable future, I’m not sure if I would be as brave as Amber. It’s obvious to see that it certainly hasn’t been easy for her;

“The impact is more on my personal self, it has been and is very very stressful planning for the future and continuing to invest and grow with this hanging over me. It has been difficult with three young children trying to navigate legal documents and evidence without showing my stress at home.

I don’t have plans to rebrand. I decided from the start I would only think about anything like that after the decision was made, otherwise it’s like admitting defeat in a way and I believe we will win this as it’s is ridiculous that ZARA is even suggesting we are similar or that consumers could be confused by the two brands.”

The thing all the responses had in common, even those I can’t name, is that they all had the same story of their customers thinking that the idea of ZARA going after their business was literally a joke; as in, they didn’t believe it.

I didn’t fully either until I was well into my research because frankly, as you go about your life, you kinda assume that the courts are there to protect us from this kind of stuff, right?


An artist Meg Mcwilliam dedicated this art work to the ZARA vs House of Zana case.

ZARA can afford to financially ruin small businesses that have nothing but 2 of the same letters in common; I’d be terrified to see what they would do if they were called "THE".

Small businesses, on the other hand, can’t afford to fight them in court, no matter how unjust the claim, and this is what ZARA’s destructive strategy counts on. This, and the rest of us doing nothing.

If you think the world of Fashion should be filled with authentic designs made real by workers getting paid a real wage, you need to help Amber.

If you agree that it’s unfair that people can’t honour their family heritage, the things they’re inspired by or even their own names in their life’s work because the ZARA legal team needs to make a case for existing, you need to sign this petition.

If you call yourself a Fashionista, it’s time to stand up to ZARA.

Related:House of Zana Won Court Battle Against Zara