The name Jimmy Choo is synonymous with high-end shoes. It is most women’s dream to own a pair of Jimmy Choo’s as that’s like the ultimate in accessories for that perfect outfit.
And… to have a closet full of Jimmy Choo’s it says you have a credit card and you know how to use it. The man called Jimmy Choo was of Chinese origins but was born and great up in Choo Yeang Keat in Malaysia in the city of Penang. His birthday is November 15, 1952.
So how did he come about his love, passion, and expertise of shoemaking? Well, it was in his blood. He came from a long line of shoemakers or cobblers.
As he grew up he was in and out of the family shop and learned shoemaking from the sole up and he was a quick and fast learner. He became so adept at shoemaking that he created his first pair of shoes at eleven years old.
Choo was an ambitious man and after learning all he could about shoemaking at home, he took his expertise and ingenuity to England’s fashion world to try and make a name for himself, little knowing that he would invent his own shoe company.
Cordwainers Technical College became his school of choice and in 1983 graduated with honors. After three years of honing his trade, he found the perfect location for opening a shop. It was located in Hackney, North London, in an old hospital building.
Choo designs and workmanship were recognized as being some of the most desired women’s shoes and he started to make a name for himself. His first big breaks was with Vogue magazine in 1988. His shoes were finally brought to the public in an eight-page spread.
One of Jimmy’s great supporter for his shoes was Princess Diana. She loved them and wore them often. How many shoe designers could claim that their shoes shod royalty? Kate Middleton and Michelle Obama have carried on the tradition as well.
Even though his shoes were highly sought after he was a very small operation that only could put our a few pairs of shoes a week. So the accessories editor of Vogue, Tamara Mellon contacted Choo to see if he was open to the plan of maybe bringing his product to a larger market. She wanted to make his business into a household name by bringing it to a wider audience.
Tamara contacted an Italian manufacturer to mass produce the shoes and in 1996 Jimmy Choo Ltd. was born. The first Jimmy Choo upscale boutique was now being operated in London.
Because of the designs, color, and expert marketing, the once small company became an empire. Stores opened in places like New York, NY, and in California’s fashion district of Beverly Hills and Las Vegas, NV.
Celebrities were clamoring for his chic and elegant designs and when the red carpet was rolled out women such as Madonna, Renee Zellwegger, Victoria Beckham, and Julia Roberts were sporting his prestigious shoes.
Jimmy Choo had it made!
Little did people realize though that as his business was growing and becoming more and more famous, Jimmy was feeling a little flat and unfulfilled.
He loved to make shoes… quality shoes with precision and pride which when manufactured for the masses, took the exact details he admired out of the equation. How could mass produced shoes still retain the workmanship that was his trademark?
Gone were the days of creating one of a kind, hand-made pairs of shoes for special customers and he missed his little shop in London. After giving it much thought about what he wanted to do and accomplish he decided to sell part of his business and profited $30 million dollars or 10 million GBP.
This allowed Jimmy Choo Couture to be born and as this is is passion, it is what he’s been focused on ever since he sold.
Back to his roots, the workmanship and quality of his shoes are now reflected in his new line of handcrafted shoes and only creates a couple of pairs a week. An apprentice program has been created as well, that train the best of the best in shoemaking.
Currently, the original company manufactured shoes at J. Choo Ltd is being run by Pierre Denis. Mr. Denis used to work as an executive at LVMH. They have expanded into purses, accessories as well as men’s shoes.
Awarded the Order of the British Empire in 2002 he has also gone on to win the British Fashion Council Awards Designer Brand category in 2008 as well as several other awards over the years.
No matter how famous or how many accolades he receives he still remains humble in his beginnings. Making the most exquisite shoes in a manner that defines craftsmanship with a team of apprentices ready to continue the line, his shoes will forever be icons of a man doing what he loves.