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Before he became a billionaire fashion entrepreneur, Yusaku Maezawa was an indie rock band member who decided to skip college ‘after seeing all the tired faces on my morning commutes’ in Japan.

Born in 1975 in Chiba prefecture in Japan, Maezawa graduated from the prestigious Waseda Jitugyo High School in 1991.

It was there that he started SWITCH STYLE, an indie rock band which eventually released an EP in 1995.

Japanese businessman Yusaku Maezawa, who at the end of 2021 took videos of himself floating around in the International Space Station, 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 of musicians he loved.

In 1995, he returned to Japan and started an import CD and record mail-order business.

His business succeeded, and he began to branch out.

In 2000, he created an online retail business. That same year, his band signed with BMG Japan and debuted an album.

His company, Start Today Inc, also began to sell clothing.

In 2004, Start Today began Zozotown, the site made a killing selling clothes from shops such as Japanese boutique United Arrows and minimal French label A.P.C.

Zozotown’s success turned its founder, Maezawa, into one of Japan’s richest entrepreneurs, and its name adorns a baseball stadium.

The website set itself apart in its early days with a clean, uncluttered design and a slice of ‘Ura-Hara’ style – the modish fashion of the backstreets that line the trend-setting Harajuku district of Tokyo.

Business took off as fashion-conscious professionals in their late twenties and early thirties started using Zozotown to buy trendy but work-appropriate threads online from labels such as United Arrows and Nano Universe.

Its target is now broader, selling over 6,800 brands including clothes by Shimamura Co Ltd, one of Japan’s largest mass market chains. But industry executives say it still has an enviable cachet.

It continued to grow until 2007, when it went public and was listed in Tokyo Mothers Market.

In recent years, Maezawa has used his wealth to buy famous and pricey works of art.

In 2016, he spent $57.2million for a piece by Jean-Michel Basquiat.

A year later, he shelled out a whopping $110.5million at auction in Sotheby’s for another Basquiat piece – this one titled Untitled.  

He’s also bought works by Christopher Wool, one of which he paid $13.9million, as well as Richard Prince.

In 2007, Maezawa spent $9.7million on Prince’s ‘Runaway Nurse’, which was a record.

He also paid $6.9million for ‘Lobster’, by Jeff Koons.

Maezawa’s dream is to buy up works of art and display them in his own private museum in his hometown of Chiba prefecture.

Sources: Reuters, The Daily Beast

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