INTERVIEW

SAWADA Kotaro

Representative Director, President & CEO

When I was a rookie by SAWADA Kotaro - “Never imagined myself being a CEO.”

- Tell us your early career and your rookie moments.

Honestly, the time I spent during my rookie days was not always praised. I was the type of person who does only the bare minimum in his job and also happy enough just working with colleagues. At that time, I never really imagined myself being a CEO sometime,

Then one day, my boss suggested me to move to a department, which was far from my will. And I realized that I couldn't go on like this. But it actually became a chance to seriously figure out my situation for the first time since I had ever started working, and made me feel pressured and rushed..

From that point on, I devoted myself to work with all my might for my ideal career.

This ended up making me take on a new challenge, and brought me a chance to be seconded to a consulting firm of the group company, in which I always had an interest.
The work there was hard yet very inspiring, as I got more information about industries I had yet no touch with, and more opportunities to meet more people.

The “IT,” “retail” and “logistics” areas that I excelled in at that time were what I needed at ZOZO so I think I was meant to be. Furthermore, my experiences during that period, including the fact that I was able to cultivate an awareness of “working thoroughly with customers,” are still at the core of who I am today.

- Tell us your motto for work gained through your career.

“Pull somebody's chestnuts out of the fire” describes my motto.

I suppose I am the type of person who runs into complicated problems intentionally. I know it would bring me so much work but I cannot stop myself from curiosity.

I admit that I have regretted my decision sometimes. But I have also passed through some situations in which those experiences came in handy a few years later.

That’s why I set rules for myself, never to turn a blind eye, and always give it a try before being caught in a flood of thoughts. By engaging with work with this attitude, I will somehow gain a sense of ownership, and  myself  will be thankful for those attempts.

I found ZOZO’s DNA in a “Meeting in a typhoon.”

- Tell us your unforgettable day at ZOZO

The first thing that came up to mind was when I had a meeting about the renewal of ZOZOTOWN throughout the night 10 years ago,

The meeting started in the early evening and finished in the next morning. No one cared about the typhoon outside, almost breaking windows. Although we were exhausted both mentally and physically, we never stopped debating.

Honestly, we did not come up with enough ideas through the meeting. However, the fact we spent that much time on the meeting sums up our DNA, which was put into words as the company’s mindset “Imagine the unexpected. Chart the unexplored.”

We don’t follow conventions, we don’t look at competitors. We look at our business, do what we like, and deliver surprises to our customers. I find ZOZO’s DNA still in the current staff just the same as I found in the past, and this has been definitely passed down to the generations.

To make us an infrastructure of the fashion industry

- How would you envision ZOZO in 10 years?

We aim to be an infrastructure of the fashion industry, as a whole business.

We run multiple services derived from fashion e-commerce ZOZOTOWN, for example. fashion app that offers unlimited fashion/styling content, but we are not staying within these and will go beyond.

We possess huge customer data, and are actively developing business in the technology field, including research and development of measurement technology such as “ZOZOSUIT.”

We are looking at boosting the fashion industry while crossing offline and online, by backing up the operation of physical stores with ZOZO's technology functions, so more than just running an online platform.

As a company, I also want to spread out and deliver ZOZO's unique culture to the world.

ZOZO's history has been built by the time we spent doing what we believe is “inspiring.” Wishing for world peace, initiatives for sustainability, and consideration for colleagues - although these kinds of actions are not always profitable, they have always been in our ethos.

What ZOZO has believed to be “inspiring” is slightly getting closer to identical with what the world believes to be “inspiring.” We will continue to lead the world with the passion to set the standard for a new era.

- In 2022, ZOZO added the statement “Explore your style. Make you delighted.” to its strategy. How do you describe “style” in your words?

Giving comfort to me, and also people around me. Having these both factors make the style for me.

In my case, as someone in a management position, I wish I could deliver smiles to the staff through my fashion. When I think of this, it should require, for example, wearing bright colors that bring out energy rather than choosing an outfit only with dark colors. I used to prefer fashion in dark tones but my preference has also changed recently.

Wearing bright colors makes me feel brighter too. And it also makes me feel even brighter when the staff says that I look good in those colors.

Work hard and play hard, with full of adrenaline.

- Tell us your essential piece for work.

My favorite is a fish-motif pen holder, which the staff gave me as a gift.

First of all, I’m into fishing. Fishing works in such simple steps - you bite a hook, then hook a fish. It’s very simple but I feel so much adrenaline in me when a fish has taken a bite.

Not quite sure if the staff really knew my excitement or not, he gave me a pen holder in a fish figure so I thought I was meant to be.

This pen holder motivates me at work, as it reminisces about the moment a fish takes a bite.

Representative Director, President & CEO
Executive Officer of : Corporate Identity Office/ CDO Office/ Communication Design Office/ Brand Solution Division/ Brand Solution Development Division/ Quality Assurance Division/ Information Security & IT Divison/ Office of Internal Audit
SAWADA Kotaro

May 2008 Representative Director of Start Today Consulting Co., Ltd
Jun 2013 Director of the Company
Sep 2019 Representative Director, President & CEO of the Company (present)
Aug 2022 Representative Director, CEO of ZOZO NEXT, Inc.