November 17, 2017

Style Profile: Amancio Ortega of Inditex

As Zara fever rapidly takes over the international fashion blogging world and closets alike, there’s one man to thank for blessing us with chic, on-trend clothing at affordable prices. Amancio Ortega, retail mogul of fashion empire Inditex (which also includes brands like Pull & Bear, Bershka, Massimo Dutti and Stradivarius) is the man behind the multi-billion dollar business. He recently jumped up two spots on Forbe’s Billionaires List to become the 3rd-richest person in the world.

Where did the beginnings of Inditex come from? Ortega’s living room in Galicia, Spain.

Zara amancio ortega

A Zara storefront

 The Beginnings of an Empire

Ortega first started in the fashion world when he worked at a local store in La Coruña, folding shirts, but eventually started making lingerie and nightgowns with his ex-wife in their living room. From there, he hired local women to sew his designs and later made his first shop: Confecciones Goa, which sold quilted bathrobes. Finally, in 1975 he opened the first Zara store which spiraled into a worldwide success.

zara in nyc

Zara has expanded to markets all over the world

Why Zara is Growing in a Downward Economy

The formula he’s used from the beginning, which has made Zara catapult to fame, was a quick time-frame in which designs are envisioned, made, and shipped to the stores. Zara’s stock is replenished twice weekly, and is consistently changing. In a New York Time’s article about Inditex and Ortega they explained his strategy for success:

Ortega wanted to maintain his own manufacturing business in La Coruña, so from the beginning his business model differed from the norm. A traditional ready-to-wear fashion company in the West sends the designs for its clothes to independent factories in countries like China and India, where the labor to make them is cheap. These clothes are then shipped back and stocked in stores in spring and fall, with smaller shipments throughout the year.

But a brand at Inditex will make a fall collection, for example, and then ship only three or four dresses or shirts or jackets in each style to a store. There’s very little leftover stock, few extra-smalls or mediums hiding in the back. But store managers can request more if there’s demand. They also monitor customers’ reactions, on the basis of what they buy and don’t buy, and what they say to a sales clerk: “I like this scooped collar” or “I hate zippers at the ankles.” Inditex says its sales staff is trained to draw out these sorts of comments from their customers. Every day, store managers report this information to headquarters, where it is then transmitted to a vast team of in-house designers, who quickly develop new designs and send them to factories to be turned into clothes.

The Future of Zara

Zara continues expanding worldwide and has eclipsed the success of rival fashion chain H&M; whose numbers have taken a hit in recent months. Designs are always the ultimate in trendy and the brand has become highly coveted in cities where Zara doesn’t yet exist.

Does Zara exist where you live? What do you think of Amancio Ortega’s idea to keep store stock constantly changing?

Feature image by: Daquella manera, NYC Zara by scalleja

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