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From little family shoe-making store to famous fashion icon

Friday, 29 July 2011

The sharp, shrieking sound of Carrie Bradshaw hyper-ventilating over a new pair of Jimmy Choos in the hit series Sex and the City may have long faded from TV screens, but the shoe company appears to be more and more successful.
This success, obviously, did not occur overnight.
The founder of Jimmy Choo had to sacrifice a lot of blood, sweat, and tears to get his company to where it is today.
Jimmy Choo is from a shoe-making family in Penang, Malaysia. At a young age, his parents taught him how to make comfortable, high-quality shoes; He made his first pair of shoes at the age of eleven.
For college, Choo left Malaysia and headed for London. His last name is actually Chow, but on his registration form to England, he misspelled it. Since then, he has not bothered to change it.
He attended Cordwainers College, one of London’s fashion schools. In England, he started his first business in 1996 and developed a small pool of loyal customers.
Word got around about Choo’s shoes. Eventually, Vogue did an eight-page spread about Jimmy Choo’s shoes.
Soon his clients included the Queen of Denmark and Princess Diana.
In 1998, Vogue editor Tamara Mellon bought the name ‘Jimmy Choo’ to put on shoes in an Italian shoe-making warehouse. This is where the first “ready to wear” Jimmy Choo shoes were born.
The Luxury Equinox Sharing Company bought the rest of his shares. The company is currently worth about $800 million dollars, making it the most valuable shoe-making company in the world.
But the reason for most of Choo’s success is celebrity endorsements.
He is the maker of luxury shoes for stars including pop singer Beyoncé, who has sung about “kicking it in my Jimmys”.
But the real story of Jimmy Choo’s growth is the gushing recommendations in Sex and the City.
The series ran on HBO from 1998 to 2004, but since then two films have emerged and is still being shown on UK cable channels.
Maureen Hinton, lead analyst at the retail consultancy Verdict, says, “It is a very good brand name that has global appeal.”
Choo has gotten lucky with some accidental celebrity endorsements; His shoes assiduously courted the stars and the fashion media to phenomenal effect.
The “as worn by section” of magazines has A-listers like Michelle Obama, Meryl Streep, Hilary Swank, Paris Hilton, Sandra Bullock and Madonna sporting Jimmy Choo shoes.


The brand has also shown itself to have a popular touch. In November 2009, the high street chain H&M issued the opening of a limited Jimmy Choo collection.
Not only has Choo done collaborations with H&M, but he has done partner work with St. Tropez, and HUNTER. The most recent one is the ‘UGG & JIMMY CHOO’ collaboration.
He also recently opened new stores in cities globally including Dubai, Sydney, and Macau. He is trying to open a few more in Hong Kong, Russia, India, and China.
In the past year, the United Stares economy was in an unhealthy shape. The world’s biggest luxury brands were buffeted by the global recession but many of them are now flying high.
With a price tag of $800 million, the value of Jimmy Choo has definitely skyrocketed.
Choo worked vigorously since 1996. He often has doubters like Robert Clark, senior partner of Retail Knowledge Bank. However, those doubters soon admit they are mistaken. Clark says: “I have always perceived it to be a brand that will run out of steam on a global basis because fashion moves on, or new celebrities will arrive on the scene wearing something different, and people will be looking for the new Jimmy Choo. But I have been proved consistently wrong.”
Those who want to be an entrepreneur should definitely look at Choo as a role model. His success has made a mark on the world’s fashion industry. Even though his heels make a wearer’s legs look a mile long, they are actually known for their comfort, quality, and detail.

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