Being the flavor of the month is often frowned upon in design, but for the Spanish fast-fashion retailer Zara, it’s a goldmine. In an industry where thorough trend forecasting is the norm and designers often think multiple seasons ahead, Zara flies by the seat of its pants. And this approach seems to be working. Its parent company—Inditex SA, the world’s biggest fashion retailer by sales, as the Wall Street Journal reports today—believes keeping its ear to the ground, listening to what customers want right now, and delivering quickly is a better business strategy than gambling on what trends will be months down the road. For example, it brought a coat from design to retail in just 25 days. This model relies less on formal marketing reports and sales figures to drive design decisions and instead relies on observational research. At the center of that strategy are Zara’s store managers, who listen to what customers are requesting and looking for on their racks—and relay that intel to the company’s HQ in Arteixo, Spain. These managers are sometimes even flown in to consult. Realistically, Zara’s thinking goes, store managers who watch a steady parade of fashionable customers in their stores are better equipped to know what’s cool than some marketing VP holed up in their offices. Read more at Fast Company.