Jimmy Choo, the iconic brand, now consists of more than just designer shoes. Here is a glimpse at the rise and only rise of Jimmy Choo and how his creations redefined fashion perceptions across the globe
Born to a family of cobblers, Jimmy Choo inherited the craftsmanship of making shoes from his father and mastered the trade in no time. Today, Jimmy has to his credit many coveted footwear designs that have changed the very perception of footwear. As he rose to fame, Jimmy did not restrict his creativity to just shoes, he extended it to a host of other things like fragrances, accessories and even eyewear. From his humble beginnings in Malaysia, this designer has idneed Born in Penang, Malaysia, in 1948, Jimmy Choo used the craftsmanship he learned from his father, also a cobbler, to create some of the most coveted shoes in the world.
In the formative years
The legendary shoe maker was born as Jimmy Choo Yeang Keat in 1948 in Penang, Malaysia. At an early age, little Choo was immersed in the world of shoe-making. His father wanted him to follow in his footsteps, and by age 11, Choo had made his first pair of shoes. In his interviews, Jimmy talks about how his father would not let him make a shoe in the initial days. Perhaps all signs of a tough teacher and a great learner. Because Jimmy also did not give up. For months, he sat and watched and watched till he mastered the art and was ready to meet the expectations of his father, his teacher.
After being introduced to the art of shoe-making, Jimmy went on to study in England. He studied at the Cordwainers Technical College in Hackney and graduated with honors in 1983.
The turning point
On completing his graduation, Choo took a call to stay in England and pursue his dream. He opened his first shop in Hackney. The location was not a posh one, he set shop in an old hospital building. But the year was 1986 and Choo had made an entry. His skill earned him the recognition and before he knew it, this young designer was famous. Two years, his designer shoes earned him a place Vogue gaining international recognition.
In no time, Choo became the popular choice for celebrities including members of the royal family. The appearance in Vogue paid off really well. It was instrumental in his meteoric rise to fame. Tamara Yeardye Mellon, an accessories editor at Vogue was a huge fan of Jimmy Choo creations, knew that there was a large market for his shoes. She approached the designer with a partnership opportunity and the rest is history. From making just 20 pairs per week to introducing his line of ready to wear footwear, the brand Jimmy Choo grew really fast.
The first boutique shop under their partnership came up in London.By 1990s, the franchise grew really fast and stores came up in Los Angeles and New York.
Choo was a global brand, with high-end retail clients that included Harrods and Saks Fifth Avenue when he chose to part ways with Tamara. By then Jimmy Choo had expanded his design creativity to handbags and other accessories as well. However, his meteoric rise to fame has all elements of a Hollywood blockbuster. When everything seemed just right, Choo and Mellon had major issues about the direction of the company. For Tamara, growing was important but Choo wanted to focus more on quality, to him bigger was not always better. And so they decided to part ways when Choo sold his half of the company to Robert Bensoussan of Equinox Luxury Holdings for USD 30 million.
The Designer Today
Presently, the designer has gone back to his roots and works out of a small workshop in London. The small shop serves as the headquarters of the Jimmy Choo Couture line. The designer focuses on creating a small number of pairs of shoes each week. He also trains a select group of students on the art of making high-end footwear.
In recent years he has become an Ambassador for Footwear Education at the London College of Fashion and spokesperson for the British Council in its efforts to reach out to foreign students. The ace designer was also honoured with the O.B.E. (Most Excellent Order of the British Empire).
Jimmy Choo & Eyewear
Tamara continues to head the Jimmy Choo brand and its extensive portfolio of products which include eyewear, perfumes, handbags and a host of other high-end accessories. Superbly stylish shoes continue to remain the core of its offerings. Each product is carefully crafted to perfection and beautifully encapsulates the glamorous yet playfully spirit of the brand – Jimmy Choo. Jimmy Choo eyewear is all about glamour and fashion, an ideal choice for those who want to convey a glamorous yet empowered style statement. The brand also forayed into the men’s eyewear segment in 2011 and the collection was a huge success. Ever since, the brand has been adding a lot of interesting men’s eyewear styles to its collection.
The collection is made up of three distinct stories, blending the innate confidence, effortless attitude and the overtly masc
uline style expressed by the Jimmy Choo Man in a range of unique, daring and eye catching styles featuring signatures of the Jimmy Choo Men’s collections.