Jimmy Choo was launched in 1996 when Tamara Mellon, Accessories Editor at British Vogue realized the potential demand for stylish but wearable shoes and approached Mr Jimmy Choo, the couture shoe maker based in the East End of London, recognized for his excellent craftsmanship. Tamara partnered with Mr Jimmy Choo to start the ready-to-wear shoe company and opened the first stand alone boutique on Motcomb Street, London along with a strong wholesale business. Sandra Choi, Mr Jimmy Choo’s niece, was named Creative Director, a position she holds to this day, reporting to Tamara Mellon.
In 1998, Jimmy Choo opened its first boutique in New York followed by Los Angeles in 1999. Sparking an immediate success amongst young Hollywood, Jimmy Choo became synonymous with the “red carpet” shoe of choice and was hailed the lucky charm for Oscar winners such as Cate Blanchett, Halle Berry, Hilary Swank and many other Hollywood actresses.
In April 2001, Mr Jimmy Choo’s equity share of the business was purchased by Equinox Luxury Holdings Ltd. During this period, Jimmy Choo saw its first significant expansion and the introduction of handbags. In November 2004, Lion Capital acquired a majority shareholding, valuing the company at £101 million. In February 2007, a majority shareholding of Jimmy Choo was acquired by TowerBrook Capital Partners, the international private equity firm, a deal which valued the company at £185 million.
Today, Jimmy Choo encompasses a complete luxury lifestyle accessory brand with women’s shoes, handbags, small leather goods, sunglasses and eyewear. Its products are available in the growing network of Jimmy Choo freestanding stores as well as in the most prestigious department and specialty stores worldwide. From its original base in the United Kingdom and United States, the Jimmy Choo store network now encompasses over 100 locations in 32 countries.1
Mellon had frequently visited Choo’s Hackney workrooms when she was at Vogue, often having him create shoes for a shoot. With her father as chairman of the new company, she opened a shop that she filled with the sort of shoes she liked to wear. “It was only logical,” she points out. “I am the customer. I understand the lifestyle. I know what sort of shoes women in my world need. I have the ideas and Jimmy’s niece designs them for me.” From the first collection, her Knightsbridge shop became a magnet for the international super-rich and sexy.
Since buying Jimmy Choo, Mellon has moved fast, and is now seen less as a society princess and more as a driven businesswoman.2
1 Info and images courtesy of http://www.jimmychoo.com/scat/thestory
2 Info courtesy of http://women.timesonline.co.uk/tol/life_and_style/women/fashion/article5390414.ece