In the street, I only want to be recognized by my family, my friends and people I work with.
He left school and moved to A Coruña at the age of 14, due to the job of his Father, a railway worker. Shortly after, he found a job as a shop hand for a local shirtmaker called Gala, which still sits on the same corner in downtown A Coruña, and learned to make clothes by hand. In 1972, he founded Confecciones Goa to sell quilted bathrobes.
In 1975, he opened his first Zara store with his wife Rosalía Mera.
Ortega keeps a very low profile and is known for his preference for a simple lifestyle. Until 1999, no photograph of Ortega had ever been published. 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.
His public appearance in 2000, as part of the warm-up prior to his company's initial public offering on the stock market in 2001, made headlines in the Spanish financial press. However, he has only ever granted interviews to three journalists.
In 2011, Ortega announced his imminent retirement from Inditex, parent company of the Zara chain, stating that he would ask Inditex vice-president and CEO Pablo Isla to take his place at the helm of the textile empire. In 2012 Ortega donated about €20 million to Caritas Internationalis, a Roman Catholic relief organisation.