Jimmy Choo

by Tonie Ong

JIMMY CHOO BRAND LOGOThere just some names in the fashion industry that have become inescapable. Because of the founder’s or the designer’s contributions to the world of luxury goods and retail, their names have risen to gargantuan prominence. They’re included in movies, TV shows, and mentioned in songs. Some such names have even become synonymous with the entire industry itself, defining the luxury and opulence the industry is known for. Just by the utterance of their names, one thinks of expensive clothes and lavish lifestyles. Such names include Chanel, Dior, Versace, and Fendi among others. For the people in the shoe business, there’s Jimmy Choo.

His name is similar-sounding to shoe, of which he has built an empire out of. Jimmy Choo is one of the premier footwear brands in the luxury goods market. His name alone conjured up an idea of luxurious shoes and accessories, beloved by the entirety of the fashion world and beyond. Even his name alone refers to his work, ‘Jimmy Choos’. In pop culture, Jimmy Choo is one of the most mentioned labels of footwear and has become a huge part of lavish celebrity lifestyles. Its name and prestige as even become on par with fashion brands like Gucci and Prada.

Jimmy Choo Cinderella in flagship store of Rinascente in Rome.

Jimmy Choo Cinderella in flagship store of Rinascente in Rome. Photo: Sorbis

Places to Shop for Jimmy Choo

From Factory Cleaner to World-known Brand Founder

Malaysian Designer Jimmy Choo

Malaysian Designer Jimmy Choo. Photo: theupcoming.co.uk

Born on November 15, 1948, Jimmy Choo grew up in a family of shoemakers in Penang, Malaysia. It’s often said that he made his first pair of shoes at aged 11, after being taught of the family craft by his father. In the 1980’s, he studied the Cordwainers Technical College, which has since become part of the London College of Fashion. To help fund his studies, he worked part-time, both as a waiter and as a cleaner at a shoe factory. It was around that time he learned how shoes are manufactured on a grander scale.

In 1986, he opened his first shop in Hackney. A few years since his store was opened, he caught the eye of many high-profile clients, becoming an emerging name in the high fashion industry. In 1988, a few of his creations were prominently featured in an eight-page spread of British Vogue, further spreading awareness to his name and business. Almost a decade later, in 1996, he officially founded the Jimmy Choo brand alongside former Vogue editor Tamara Mellon. Soon, he was licensing other lines, from handbags, ready-to-wear, and a multitude of accessories. However, from the late 90’s to today, his main shoe line has been the most revered and talked about among his many ventures. The line is currently designed by his niece, Sandra Choi.

Iconic Pairs and Stores All Over The World

Jimmy Choo Boutique on Rodeo Drive, Beverly Hills.

Jimmy Choo Boutique on Rodeo Drive, Beverly Hills. Photo: BCFC 

Although his name has become synonymous with excellent footwear, a lot of his pairs through the years continue to stand out. Firstly, there are the zebra-print boots—designed to celebrate the company’s expansion to the US market. With its eroticism and exuberance, it’s become a definitive pair for 1990’s fashion. There’s also the Lance, designed by Sandra Choi. This pair had become a red carpet favorite, worn by the likes of Jennifer Aniston, Amal Clooney, and Kendall Jenner. The company has also recently released a Cinderella-inspired capsule collection—an array of glittering silver and gold shoes influenced by the famous glass slippers in the fairytale.

The company was quite quick to expand internationally compared to a lot of its contemporaries. The first store of the company was opened in 1996 on London’s Motcomb street. It was there where prominent clients first saw the brand and fell in love with their extravagant and sleek styles. Two years later, in 1998, the label branched out into the United States—opening stored in both New York City and Beverly Hills. In the early 2010’s, they branched out even further by opening flagships in East Asian countries such as China, Hong Kong, and Japan. They’ve also opened a store in the founder’s home country Malaysia, right in its capital of Kuala Lumpur.

Impact on Pop Culture

Stand of the crystal encrusted shoes by Jimmy Choo in center of Main Universal Store (GUM)

Stand of the crystal encrusted shoes by Jimmy Choo in center of Main Universal Store (GUM). Photo: Maxim Apryatin

Like with any other high fashion luxury brand, pop culture has embraced Jimmy Choo—both the name and the brand. From the late 90’s to the early 2000’s, the name and label were constantly mentioned in the hit HBO TV series, “Sex and The City”, wherein the character wore and bought shoes from the brand. A lot of their pieces have even been featured multiple times in the cult classic TV show.  In the fashion-focused film “The Devil Wears Prada”, main character Andy, played by Anne Hathaway, wore numerous pairs of Jimmy Choo shoes. In the novel “The Salt-Stained Book”, written by Julia Jones, the villain of the story is said to wear Jimmy Choo shoes frequently.

Celebrity Clientele

Black Jimmy Choo leather bag before Ermanno Scervino fashion show in Milan, Italy.

Black Jimmy Choo leather bag before Ermanno Scervino fashion show in Milan, Italy. Photo: andersphoto 

Throughout the years, a lot of the most high-profile women have worn and embraced Jimmy Choos. One of the brand’s first ever clients was Princess Diana, former wife of Prince Charles. It was through her patronage that the designer and the label rose to prominence. Because of “Sex and The City”, actress and fashion icon Sarah Jessica Parker has also become an avid fan of the brand. Pop superstars Jennifer Lopez, Victoria Beckham, and Beyonce Knowles-Carter have all worn Jimmy Choo shoes, whether on the red carpet, on the street, or even on stage. Prominent models like Alessandra Ambrosio, Gigi and Bella Hadid, Kendall Jenner, and Karlie Kloss have also worn shoes from the brand multiple times.

It’s quite rare for a designer to have as big a name as Jimmy Choo. Such is the prominence and gravitas of a shoe designer, whose hard work and perseverance led it to become one of the biggest shoe empires in the world.

Jimmy Choo boutique on Chicago's Gold Coast near Michigan Avenue

Jimmy Choo boutique on Chicago’s Gold Coast near Michigan Avenue. Photo: Matthew Dicker


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