There was a time when things looked bleak, when H&M was the sole local resource for trendy, affordable European designs. But then Zara came to town, and this month the landscape brightens once again as Spanish retailer MNG by Mango makes its debut in the Pru. We compare the imports’ offerings to see where, and how, you should spend your time and money.
100 Newbury St., Boston, 617-859-3192, hm.com
Home Base: Sweden
Guest Designers: Karl Lagerfeld, Stella McCartney, Viktor & Rolf, Roberto Cavalli
Restocking Rate: New shipments daily
Best Bets for Fall: A revival of ’50s, ’60s, and ’70s elegance—slim suiting, flowing eveningwear, mod trench coats, wide-leg trousers; more-voluminous silhouettes
Customers Served: Men, women, kids (sizes range from infants to teens)
Labels to Look For: Our Perfect (lingerie), Divided for Men and Women (young and trendy), &denim (jeans)
Famous Fans: Anne Hathaway, Carmen Electra
Navigation Plan: Go early to avoid midday disarray, and allow time for careful exploration—merchandising isn’t H&M’s forte. If you can, avoid fitting rooms.
Our Verdict: No other store imitates the season’s runway trends as consistently and cleverly.
MNG by Mango
Prudential Center, Boston, mango.com
Home Base: Spain
Guest Designers: Penelope Cruz and sister Monica, Milla Jovovich
Restocking Rate: Racks refreshed weekly
Best Bets for Fall: Heavyweight shorts paired with nubby woolen tights; belted dresses
Customers Served: Ladies only
Labels to Look For: Paris and New York (limited-edition collections evoking their namesake city)
Famous Fans: Actress Leven Rambin, Lizzie Jagger
Navigation Plan: The 3,000-plus-square-foot space, laid out sensibly, promises to be user-friendly.
Our Verdict: Designer collaborations shine, and not just because of the famous names on the label.
Natick Collection, Natick, 508-655-5048, zara.com
Home Base: Spain
Guest Designers: No plans to jump on the designer-collaboration bandwagon anytime soon
Restocking Rate: New merch twice a week
Best Bets for Fall: Simple, structured pieces with outsize proportions; military- and medieval-inspired details; a return to the shapes of Old Hollywood
Customers Served: Mostly women, with a handful of other options including Gold Label for men and the Urban Kids line
Labels to Look For: Zara Basics (everyday essentials), TRF (juniors)
Famous Fans: Kelly Osbourne, model Selita Ebanks
Navigation Plan: Well-organized clothes and accessories, often separated by color, are easy to cruise. Fitting-room lines are usually manageable.
Our Verdict: Zara takes a smart, forthright approach to fashion—particularly in the accessories arena.