Before becoming a billionaire fashion entrepreneur, Yusaku Maezawa was a member of an indie rock band who decided to skip college “after seeing all the tired faces on my morning commutes” in Japan.
Born in 1975 in Chiba Prefecture, Japan, Maezawa graduated from the prestigious Waseda Jitugyo High School in 1991.
It was there that he founded SWITCH STYLE, an indie rock band that eventually released an EP in 1995.
Japanese entrepreneur Yusaku Maezawa, who recorded videos of himself floating on the International Space Station in late 2021, has booked an orbit around the moon aboard Tesla CEO Elon Musk’s Starship.
After graduating, he followed his then-girlfriend to the United States, where he collected CDs and records from the musicians he loved.
In 1995, he returned to Japan and started a mail-order business selling imported records and CDs.
His business was successful and began to expand.
In 2000, he created an online retail business. That same year, his band signed with BMG Japan and released an album.
His company, Start Today Inc, also began selling clothing.
In 2004, Start Today founded Zozotown, the site became rich selling clothes from stores such as Japanese boutique United Arrows and minimalist French brand APC.
Zozotown’s success made its founder, Maezawa, one of Japan’s richest businessmen, and his name adorns a baseball stadium.
The website stood out in its early days with a clean, uncluttered design and a touch of trend-setting ‘Ura-Hara’ style, the fashion of the alleyways that line Tokyo’s Harajuku district.
The business took off when fashion-conscious professionals in their twenties and thirties began using Zozotown to shop online for trendy but work-appropriate threads from brands like United Arrows and Nano Universe.
Its focus is now broader: it sells more than 6,800 brands, including clothing from Shimamura Co Ltd, one of Japan’s largest mass-market chains. But industry executives say it still has an enviable prestige.
It continued to grow until 2007, when it went public and was listed on the Tokyo Mothers Market.
In recent years, Maezawa has used his wealth to purchase famous and expensive works of art.
In 2016, he spent $57.2 million on a Jean-Michel Basquiat piece.
A year later, he shelled out a whopping $110.5 million at an auction at Sotheby’s for another Basquiat piece, this one titled Untitled.
He also bought works by Christopher Wool, for one of which he paid $13.9 million, as well as Richard Prince.
In 2007, Maezawa spent $9.7 million on Prince’s ‘Runaway Nurse,’ which was a record.
He also paid $6.9 million for Jeff Koons’ ‘Lobster’.
Maezawa’s dream is to buy works of art and display them in his own private museum in his hometown in Chiba Prefecture.