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Spanish Fashion House Arrives

Fear not! Zara is here.

The mega-clothing chain from Spain finally erected its first California outpost near Union Square where it shares the same block as fashion heavyweights, Giorgio Armani and Burberry. Luckily for shoppers, unlike her neighbors, Zara brandishes its latest runway looks minus the latest Euro exchange rates for women, men and children.

On the ground floor, Zara carries all the biggest seasonal looks for women. This fall the military look invaded plenty of runways and Zara made sure it hit its floors with every possible variation in style, color, fabric and length. There is a short belted version of a military coat in olive with brass buttons ($129) or a long style in grey wool ($249). A navy cotton jacket in black banding ($189) and camel leather jacket with epaulettes ($369) are also some of the many affordable looks available.

Also on the ground floor and a big theme for this season at Zara is black. Nearly everything comes in black. From basic turtlenecks ($39) to long Russian coats with fur trim ($169) to crushed velvet boleros ($79) and sequined pumps ($79), you can find nearly anything in black.

The womenswear collection continues on the second floor where you can find the casual weekend pieces. Zara calls it the "Zara Basic" line, which includes corduroy jackets ($79), wool pea coats ($99), striped V-neck sweaters ($25) and crafty tees ($25). Not to be outdone by nearby Levi's or Gap, Zara has also created its own denim section that offers a number of cuts, washes and styles.

Also on the second floor is a sizeable section devoted to fashions from infants to teens. The fun fashions start with orange high tops ($22) and warm jumpsuits ($27) for infants. Mauve shearling coats ($59) and matching ankle boots with butterfly cut-outs ($49) are made for the inner pre-school divas. And for boys there is the Skhuban line, which features polo tops ($11), long shorts ($22) and other essentials such as ski jackets, jeans and shoes.

The men's section somehow always ends up underground. Turn left to get the casual weekend looks or head straight to get the dandy entrances. For casual looks my eye turns immediately to the shearling coat ($549). It pairs perfectly with the various shades of corduroy pants ($39) and crew sweaters ($59) in navy, wine, brown, grey and black. There are plenty of other standout casual pieces including a distressed leather motorcycle jacket ($249) and a vibrant green ski jacket with a fur lined hood ($249).

The men's selection of more formal wear is also reasonably priced. My favorite look of all is the wine velvet smoking jacket ($149). Nearby are complimentary items such as tweed trousers ($79) and long sleeved dress shirts in light grey or brown ($59). For some reason the Superman tees ($29) are found next to the dress shirts but I know someone could manage to pull off being Clark Kent underneath a pinstripe navy suit (jacket $189; trousers $89).

Well, whether you are Superman or Clark Kent it appears that Zara has saved the day. Zara manages to pull a number of popular seasonal looks from the major fashion collections without the hard-to-swallow price tags for everyone at every age.