Amancio Ortega, born on March 28, 1936, in Villamanín, Spain, is a name not often heard in the headlines, and that's exactly how he likes it. Despite his low profile, Ortega is one of the most influential figures in the fashion and retail industry. As the founder of the Inditex fashion group, which includes iconic brands like Zara and Bershka, he has left an indelible mark on the world of fashion. Let's delve into the life and career of the enigmatic billionaire.
Amancio Ortega was the youngest of four children, born into a humble family in the town of Busdongo de Arbas, León, Spain. His parents, Antonio Ortega Rodríguez and Josefa Gaona Hernández, worked hard to provide for their family. In his early years, Amancio moved to A Coruña due to his father's job as a railway worker.
It was in A Coruña, at the age of 14, that Amancio began his journey into the world of fashion. He found employment as a shop hand for a local shirtmaker called Gala. This small shirtmaker, still located on the same corner in downtown A Coruña, played a crucial role in Ortega's formative years. It was here that he learned the art of making clothes by hand, a skill that would shape his future.
In 1975, Amancio Ortega, along with his then-wife Rosalía Mera, opened the first Zara store. This marked the beginning of the retail empire that would transform the fashion industry. Zara's approach of quickly turning runway designs into affordable, fashionable clothing for the masses revolutionised the way people approached fashion.
In 2009, Zara became a part of the Inditex group, of which Ortega owned a significant 59.29%. This conglomerate included several other brands, such as Massimo Dutti, Oysho, Zara Home, Kiddy's Class, Tempe, Stradivarius, Pull and Bear, and Bershka, employing over 92,000 people worldwide.
Ortega's remarkable career has not been without its share of headlines. He maintains an aura of mystery and has granted interviews to only three journalists. His public appearances are rare, and his focus remains firmly on his work.
Amancio Ortega's influence extends beyond the business world. He is known for his philanthropic endeavours, which include a €20 million donation to Caritas Internationalis, a Roman Catholic relief organisation. Additionally, he donated €300 million to fund the purchase of 440 machines to detect cancer, significantly enhancing cancer diagnosis and treatment in Spain.
In 2017, the Spanish Association of Foundations recognised Ortega's philanthropic contributions, awarding him the 2017 Philanthropic Initiative accolade.
While fashion has been Ortega's primary domain, he has also made substantial investments in real estate. His investment company, Pontegadea, holds property assets worth billions of dollars. These assets include prime real estate in major cities like Madrid and Barcelona, as well as properties in other European capitals, such as Paris, Berlin, Rome, Lisbon, and London.
Through Pontegadea, Ortega has acquired shares in energy companies, diversifying his investment portfolio. His influence extends to different sectors, solidifying his status as a business magnate with interests beyond the realm of fashion.
Amancio Ortega is a man who values his privacy. His reluctance to be in the public eye is reflected in his minimalist fashion choices. He is known for his simple style, typically seen in a blue blazer, white shirt, and grey trousers—a uniform of his own choosing.
Ortega's personal life has had its share of ups and downs. He married Rosalía Mera in 1966, and the couple had two children before divorcing in 1986. Tragically, Mera passed away in August 2013. In 2001, Ortega married Flora Pérez Marcote, with whom he has a daughter, Marta Ortega Pérez.
While Ortega owns a vast real estate portfolio, he prefers a modest lifestyle. He predominantly resides with his wife in their apartment in A Coruña, Spain, despite owning numerous properties around the world.
Though he keeps a low profile, Amancio Ortega enjoys the finer things in life. He is often seen being chauffeured in a black Mercedes-Benz S-Class and a black Mercedes-Benz GL-Class. His luxury lifestyle extends to owning two yachts, "Drizzle" and "Valoria B," as well as private jets, including the Gulfstream G650 and Bombardier Global Express.
As of 2022, Amancio Ortega's estimated net worth is approximately $62.9 billion, making him one of the wealthiest individuals in the world. His enduring impact on the fashion industry and his diverse investment portfolio reflect his success and enduring influence. Despite his reserved nature, Amancio Ortega stands as a testament to the power of determination, innovation, and a commitment to philanthropy in the world of business.