Born in Malaysia and based in London, Jimmy Choo Yeang Keat is a fashion designer famous for his high-end women’s shoes. His creations are praised for their superior quality and unique designs, making a name for himself in top luxury brands. However, unlike most entrepreneurs, he has chosen to continue running a small shoe store instead of expanding his retail empire. Behind the beautiful designer shoes, here are the following interesting bits of information:
1. His family owned a shoemaking business.
- Choo’s father was a cobbler who ran a store from the first floor of their home. He encouraged his son to learn the trade and follow in his footsteps.
- Jimmy created his pair of shoes when he was 11 years-old. He spent the next decade working in the family business.
2. Choo expanded his knowledge of crafting shoes in London.
- After visiting relatives, he stayed to study in the prestigious Cordwainers Technical College and graduated with flying colors.
- “Cordwainer” refers to artisans who created shoes from new leather. Choo also used python and fish skin in some of his designs.
3. His first store was in a converted hospital building.
- Choo set up shop in the former Metropolitan Hospital in Hackney and sold his first footwear branded under Lucky Shoes.
- The building, which housed small-scale retailers and artisans, was also where Alexander McQueen sold some of his earliest creations.
4. Vogue magazine brought him fame and a business partner.
- After being featured in an eight-page spread, accessories editor Tamara Mellon frequently sought Choo to create shoes for fashion shoots.
- They created Jimmy Choo Ltd which produced a line of high-end ready-to-wear footwear. From 20 pairs of handmade shoes per week, mass production was taken over by Italian factories.
5. His name became recognized among celebrities and pop culture.
- Some of Choo’s most notable clients include Princess Diana, Beyoncé Knowles, and Julia Roberts. During the inauguration, George W. Bush’s twin daughters wore Jimmy Choo stiletto boots.
- Choo became a household name after he was referenced in the hit television series Sex and the City and The Sopranos.
6. He did not believe that bigger was better.
- Before his partnership with Mellon, Choo himself would design shoes for specific clients and make them by hand. He questioned the quality of the factory-made footwear.
- He sold his half of the company and returned to creating a small number of pieces by-appointment-only. These custom shoes are under the brand Jimmy Choo Couture and are specifically labeled as handmade.
7. Choo is not just a designer, but also a teacher.
- As a devout Buddhist, he places great emphasis on education and shares his trade secrets to a select group of pupils.
- Choo has also reached out to foreign students as a spokesperson for the British Council, earning him an Order of the British Empire designation for his contributions, as well as the Malaysian Dato’ title.
In the face of even greater wealth and prestige, Jimmy Choo has refused to sacrifice the integrity of his shoes and decided to share his knowledge with future designers. His passion for his craft has made his creations among the most coveted footwear in the world.
Do you own a Jimmy Choo product? What’s your impression of it?