When naming the high-street chain store that has now made its extraordinary fortune, ZARA was not Amancio Ortega’s first choice.

Personally I always imagined a sensual, stylish, Spanish woman with olive skin and luscious hair like Penelope Cruz. You may be surprised to learn that she’s actually a big, hairy, bearded Greek man!

Photo from icanstyleu.com/
Photo from icanstyleu.com/

According to Zara’s communications director, Jesus Echevarria it was after owner Amancio Ortega watched the 1964 film, Zorba the Greek,that he decided on the name Zorba for his first shop.

“I don’t think they were thinking of making history, just that it was a nice name, but apparently there was a bar that was called the same, Zorba, like two blocks away, and the owner of the bar came and said, ‘This is going to confuse things to have two Zorbas.’ They had already made the molds for the letters in the sign, so they just rearranged them to see what they could find. They found Zara.”

So he may not be pretty, or Spanish, but he’s got the great dance moves!

Anthony Quinn as Aexis Zorba and Alan Bates as Basil in 1964 classic 'Zorba the Greek'. Photo: REX
Anthony Quinn as Aexis Zorba and Alan Bates as Basil in 1964 classic ‘Zorba the Greek’. Photo: REX

Now, over three decades later, Zara is one of the most recognisable brands on streets and in shopping centres all around the world. Bloomberg Markets recently named Ortega the third richest person in the world with a net worth of $53.6 billion (£37.3 billion).