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The Inditex brands exist in a dizzying fashion time frame, where the latest trend seems to be wilting on a woman a few hours after she buys into it. The public relations person who gave me the rest of my tour of the Inditex premises — and requested not to be named, presumably in accordance with Inditex’s modesty rules — wore sleek black pants with zippered ankles, a loose yellow blouse and a black blazer with an upside-down V cut out of the back. She looked sharp and shiny as a penknife. I wore a dress that was at least six years old, which basically means I showed up for my fast-fashion tour in a poodle skirt.

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The campus (located in the industrial area of Arteixo, next door to La Coruña) consists of corporate headquarters for the entire company, as well as headquarters for Zara and Zara Home, two of Inditex’s eight brands. There are also factories and a distribution center where clothes are loaded onto trucks to be sent around the world. The factories are directly across from the corporate offices. The main building, where I waited for my hosts, somewhat resembled a hospital waiting room, with rows of plain boxy black chairs and little else. Apart from a single poster of a fashion model, nothing adorned its white walls. No flowers, no words, no ads, no fashion magazines, no style. The setting felt appropriate for the age of austerity, even if Inditex is one company in Spain that is actually thriving.


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, on the Atlantic coast of northern , is the homeland of Generalissimo , but is otherwise famous for being a place people try to leave. For much of the 20th century, hundreds of thousands of gallegos, as they are called, emigrated to countries as far away as to escape Galicia’s rural poverty. Today, however, even as Spain teeters on the edge of economic catastrophe, the Galician city has attracted notice as the hometown of Amancio Ortega Gaona, the world’s third-richest man — he displaced this year on the — and the founder of a wildly successful fashion company, Inditex, more commonly known by its oldest and biggest brand, Zara.