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Amancio Ortega

Amancio Ortega Gaona is a famous Galician fashion designer and entrepreneur. As the co-founder and chairman of Inditex Group, he's been listed as one of the richest men in the world by Forbes. Amancio Ortega Gaona, best known as Amancio Ortega, was born on March 28, 1936 in Leon, Spain. His father worked on the railroad while his mother helped support the family by working as a maid. At the age of 13, Ortega began working for a shirtmaker as a delivery boy in La Coruna, Galicia, the center of the Iberian textile industry. He worked for a variety of stores and tailors and studied how products and costs changed as they traveled from the manufacturer to the consumer. As a result, he became focused on the importance of getting products directly to the consumer without a middle man.

Ortega never attended higher education and continued to work in the textile field into the early 1960s. After becoming manager of a local clothing shop, he discovered that only wealthy individuals could afford to purchase fine clothing and became even more determined to make quality clothes accessible to everyone. As a result, Ortega started making his own products, purchasing cheaper fabric from Barcelona and selling good quality, cheaper products to local stores. In 1963, at the age of 27, Amancio Ortega founded his own company called Confecciones Goa that made and sold fine bathrobes.

Ortega continued to build his company and in 1975 he opened his first retail store called Zara. It was located across the street from on of La Coruna's most well known department stores and Zara became famous for selling high quality designer products at reasonable prices. As a result of this success, Ortega continued to open stores and was credited with choosing perfect locations for each one. By 1989 Amancio Ortega Gaona was successfully operating almost one hundred Zara stores in Spain.

With the Zara's increasing popularity and overwhelming success, Ortega created Inditex in 1985 as the holding company for the Zara brand as well as other smaller chains. Inditex became one of the largest textile companies in the world.

Ortega continued to keep his brand simple and direct. His goal was to bring designs from the runway to the common consumer in only a few short weeks. Ortega wanted the clothing to be produced in fewer quantities and for stores to be refilled more often to cut down on inventory and shipping costs. Since Ortega kept his factories in Spain and produced smaller amounts of clothing, he was able to keep jobs in his home country, continue to save shipping costs, and pass the savings onto the consumer. Zara became so popular, in fact, that Amancio Ortega hardly needed to advertise at all.

Inditex Group went public in 2001 and, with over 59% of the shares in his possession, Ortega quickly became one of the wealthiest men in the world. He continues to keep a low profile however, so much so, in fact, that few people have ever seen a picture of him. Ortega never grants interviews and rarely shows up for public events. Amancio Ortega lives a very private life with his second wife in La Coruna and, although he avoids the financial intricacies of the publicly traded company, he still enjoys designing and working with the details of fashion.