Table of Contents
- What is Zara?
- The Man Behind Zara
- Early Life
- Adult Life
- Zara is Born
- Amancio Ortega Today
- Ortega’s Private Life
- A Quote from the Man Himself
- Looking Towards the Future
- Living in Luxury
- Amancio Ortega Awarded
- His Philosophy
What is Zara?
Zara, advertised as ZARA, is a Spanish apparel retailer based out of Arteixo, A Coruña, Galicia, Spain. The company specializes in and successfully provides fast fashion, by offering products such as clothing, accessories, shoes, swimwear, beauty supplies, and perfumes. Zara is the largest company belonging to the Inditex group, which is the world’s largest apparel retailer. As of 2017, the company manages up to 20 clothing collections a year. As of 2019, there were over 2,250 Zara stores and almost 600 Zara Home stores in operation around the world. Zara became one of the most valuable clothing brands on the planet as of 2018. The brand has dominated fast fashion, producing over 450 million items per year with total sales of $13+ billion U.S. Dollars. With a monthly search volume of 30,400,000 views, it’s safe to say Zara is doing something right.
The Man Behind Zara
As the youngest of four children, Amancio Ortega was born in Busdongo de Arbas, León, Spain on March 28, 1936 to father, Antonio Ortega Rodríguez, and mother, Josefa Gaona Hernández from the province of Valladolid. His early life and childhood was spent in Tolosa, Gipuzkoa. At the age of 14, he left school and moved to A Coruña because his father who was working for the railways at the time had been transferred. During this time, Amancio found a job as a shop hand for a local shirtmaker called Gala. Gala still sits on the same corner in downtown A Coruña. This job gave Amancio an entry into the garment business by working as a delivery boy for a men’s shirt store and as an assistant in a tailor’s shop. He was exposed to the costs of manufacturing and delivering clothing directly to customers.
In the 1950s, an autonomous community of Spain, Galicia, was a perfect spot for his business plan: poor job alternatives in combination with numerous single women who could sew pretty good. Ortega started to organize women into sewing cooperatives. The product line included lingerie, babywear, and nightgowns. Ex-employees of the sewing companies run by Ortega shared with the media just how thrilled the Galicia ladies were to get new jobs with great working conditions. They also shared their excitement about seeing their boss build close relationships with his workers. As the years passed by in A Coruña, Ortega later managed a clothing store similar to that, which was catered to a wealthy clientele.
The time came where Ortega saw an opportunity to expand his client base by using less-expensive materials and more-efficient manufacturing systems by offering competitively priced garments. This approach was first applied to Ortega’s bathrobe business, founded in 1963, which was called Confecciones Goa. In 1966, Amancio Ortega married Rosalía Mera.
Zara is Born
In 1975, Amancio Ortega founded the first Zara ready-to-wear clothing store in A Coruña. The brand not only became an internationally famous chain, but has also become the flagship of his holding company Inditex, which he founded 10 years later. Together with Rosalía Mera, Amancio Ortega integrated Confecciones GOA into Inditex.
Amancio Ortega Today
The year is now 2021, and Amancio Ortega is now publicly known as an entrepreneur and the co-founder of Industria de Diseño Textil, S.A. (Inditex), which includes prêt-à-porter fashion chains such as Zara, Pull&Bear, Massimo Dutti, Bershka, Stradivarius, Oysho, and Uterqüe. Although he was born into poverty, he did not let that stop him. Ortega has since become an accumulated Spanish fashion executive. The operations of all Inditex businesses were based on the so-called fast-fashion concept.
Fashion trend spotters picked up design ideas at fashion shows, in-house designers then copied the best concepts, and Inditex’s highly efficient manufacturing operations, (most of which were based in Spain) produced and distributed these new fashions to the stores just a few weeks after they had been spotted on fashion runways. In an era in which most clothing manufacturers outsourced production to China and other low-cost locations, Inditex produced two-thirds of its garments in Spain as well as surrounding countries.
Arrivals in Zara stores are not limited to the traditional fashion seasons of fall, winter, spring, and summer. This brand does a great job of instead releasing new items on a weekly basis which keeps consumers running back, year-round. Customer feedback as well as sales analyses have allowed the Zara team to quickly remove products that do not sell quickly, from stores. The fast-fashion concept was and is still so popular with Zara customers, that there are now thousands of successful Zara stores worldwide, and traffic continues to rise even though relatively little funds have been spent on advertising.
Ortega’s Private Life
Although Ortega enjoyed tremendous international success in an industry that fed on public images and publicity, he himself shunned the press and has chosen to live a strictly private life. On the day of Inditex’s public offering in 2001, Ortega reportedly worked a regular schedule and ate lunch in the company’s cafeteria—despite the fact that his net worth had risen by $6 billion. In 2008 Inditex emerged as the world’s largest fashion retailer, controlling some 4,000 stores in 70 countries. Ortega, meanwhile, had become one of the world’s top billionaires. In 2011 he stepped down as chairman of Inditex, though he remained involved with the company and retained his majority stake.
Ortega is very private about his personal life, and as of 2012 he has only given three interviews to journalists. Ortega is very reclusive and keeps a very low profile. Until 1999, no photograph of Ortega had ever been published. Amancio Ortega is a true media nightmare, as neither him nor any of his relatives have ever given public interviews. Ortega and his first wife, Rosalía Mera Goyenechea, chose to never appear together in public, nor did they let their two children, Sandra Ortega Mera and Marcos Ortega Mera, be pictured by intrusive paparazzi. Their clothing business was the only affair they were busy with.
A Quote from the Man Himself
“In the street, I only want to be recognized by my family, my friends and people I work with.”
Looking Towards the Future
Following his divorce from Rosalía Mera Goyenechea in 1986, Amancio Ortega married his second wife Flora Pérez Marcote in 2001, with whom he had a daughter, Marta Ortega Pérez, in 1984 . Ortega now has three children but it has recently been confirmed that his daughter from the second marriage, Marta Ortega Pérez, 37, will be his successor of his global industry. Marta will step into the position in April, according to a statement released by the chain’s parent company, Inditex. She has worked at the company for the last 15 years — starting as a sales clerk in London before taking on larger roles in women’s merchandising, branding and other areas — but has not held an official title and has never been part of the board. She will replace company veteran Pablo Isla, who has worked at Inditex for nearly two decades, first as chief executive officer and most recently as executive chair.
Living in Luxury
Known as the richest man in Spain, Amancio Ortega owns more than $17.2 billion in real estate across the world including Paris, Lisbon, London, and Madrid. Besides that, he also has a luxury apartment right here in the United States, located in the hub of Miami.As of 2017, despite owning a huge real estate portfolio he mostly lives with his wife in his apartment in A Coruña, Spain. The founder of fast fashion label Zara brought in 621 million euros through his real estate assets last year, according to Bloomberg. He has also invested in tourism, banks and gas companies. The self-made mogul has a lot to be proud of.
Ortega likes to dress simply, he refuses to wear a tie, and typically prefers to wear a simple uniform of a blue blazer, white shirt, and gray trousers, none of which are Zara products. But don’t let his fashion sense fool you. He is mostly spotted being driven around in a black Mercedes-Benz S-Class (W221) and a black Mercedes-Benz GL-Class (X166). He owns two yachts “Drizzle” and “Valoria B” as well as Gulfstream G650 and Bombardier Global Express private jets. His real time net worth is now $73.3 Billion USD.
Amancio Ortega Awarded
In July 2017, for its second edition of the AEF awards, the Spanish Association of Foundations awarded Amancio Ortega in the 2017 Philanthropic Initiative category. He also donated 300 million euros to fight cancer across Spain, which were invested in the purchase of 440 machines to detect the disease.
Ortega built his empire on two basic rules: Give customers what they want, and get it to them faster than anyone else. The twin organizing principles have made the company (and Ortega) into a powerhouse executive.