How Amancio Ortega Became The Richest Fashion King In The World

Amancio Ortega is a world class fashion designer and entrepreneur who has built himself an impressive resume through the years. He is the founder and chair of Inditex, the mother company of several chain stores including the mega clothing line Zara. Beyond retail, Ortega has amassed a real estate empire worth $10 billion.

He has also made investments in two giant Spanish funds: Pontegadea Inmobiliaria and Pontegadea Inversiones, in which he holds the majority share of 97.2 %.With a net worth of $64 billion, Ortega sits pretty neat as the third richest man in the world.

Amancio Ortega’s Humble Beginnings

Amancio’s story is an inspirational one.  Out of the throes of poverty he managed to become a self-made billionaire. Ortega was born in 1936 in Busdongo de Arbas a small town in Northern Spain. He grew up as the youngest child in the family of four. Amancio did not get formal higher education due to the abject poverty he grew up in. The family scraped on by his mother’s work as a housemaid and his father’s railway job.

In the late 1930s, Ortega and his family moved to La Coruña where they lived in the railway workers’ quarters.  It was here that the young Ortega began his remarkable career. He landed his first job when he was 13 where he worked as an assistant for a local shirt maker named Gala. He later worked as a tailor’s and draper’s assistant.

In the early 1960s, Amancio got what many would call his big break. He became the manager of a local clothing store. In seeing how firsthand garments moved from designers to factory stores, Ortega saw the importance of delivering products directly to the customers. He would later apply the strategy to the Zara Empire.

The Birth and Success of Zara

With enough cash and expertise, Ortega opened his first Zara shop in 1975. From the onset, Zara was known for its top-notch quality designer dresses at affordable prices. Zara became so successful that the company implemented its policy of zero advertising. But with celebrities such as Kate Middleton donning the clothes, we see why the policy is effective. 

What makes Zara retailer such a huge phenomenon? Ortega has two secrets to his astonishing success: give the customers what they want and give it to them faster than anyone else. Two rules that have proliferated Zara across the globe with 1808 stores worldwide.

If you thought Zara is the only highlight of Amancio’s career, you might want to read on how Amancio formed one of the largest multinational textile companies in the world. 

Ortega Swoops The Fashion World Again!

10 years after Zara was founded, Ortega’s business ventures led to the creation of Inditex. A Spanish multinational company, which operates 6200 stores worldwide. Inditex’s success is based on the fast-fashion model pushing new clothes into stores in a matter of weeks- almost 12x faster than their competitors.  

Inditex has become the world’s largest fashion retailer making 840 million garments a year. Ortega is no longer the chairman of Inditex, but he still earns big bucks from the retail company as he controls almost 60% of the company’s shares.

Amancio Ortega has achieved a big feat in the fashion industry, but even as his bank account continues to soar, he prefers to fly under the radar. The 76 year old fashion mogul is often described as reserved, and downright secretive. His low profile seems to be working well for him. He continues to make smart investments as his wealth skyrockets.

Lessons from Amancio Ortega

  • Understand your customers’ needs and give them what they want faster than anyone else.
  • Never despise humble beginnings. You can always rise above your challenges.
  • Start where you are. No matter how little it is, it will lead you to something greater.
  • No matter how rich you are, don’t be wrapped up in yourself.  Remain humble

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