Do you know that when the world says JIMMY CHOO, what they really refer to is, the BRAND Jimmy Choo; and NOT actually the man from Malaysia. The celebrated Penang-born shoemaker called Jimmy Choo Yeang Keat.
Do you know in Lauren Goldstein Crowe and Sagra Maceira de Rosen’s book, “TheTowering World of Jimmy Choo: A Glamorous Story of Power, Profits, and the Pursuit of the Perfect Shoe”, Jimmy Choo the shoemaker from Malaysia is mentioned only in ONE chapter out of 15? It is in chapter three called “A Choo is Born. That’s all.
But to many Malaysians, when they hear the name Jimmy Choo mentioned in foreign TV shows, Hollywood movies, or international fashion magazines and TV shows, they thought they were directly referring to the Malaysian Hakka shoe-maker Choo Yeang Keat. The famous Dato Jimmy Choo.
It is a fact, Dato Jimmy Choo himself started it all from his humble grotty workshop in Hackney, East London, way back in 1986. And with the help of his niece Sandra Choi, they developed a list of high-end clients.
With Jimmy Choo’s exquisite craftmanship and designs, his shoes were featured in a 8-page spread in 1988 issue of British Vogue. Then came the late Princess Diana Princess of Wales who further boosted the name Jimmy Choo.
Basically, most Malaysians know him as ‘Jimmy Choo the Malaysian shoemaker who made shoes for the late Princess Diana’.
So, how did the name Jimmy Choo became a global brand in the competitive world of high fashion?
It all because of this English lady (above) by the name of Tamara Yeardye (latter known as Tamara Mellon after she married to a banking heir Matthew Mellon). She was then the accessories editor at British Vogue, and she spotted the potential of Malaysian-born cobbler Jimmy Choo’s work. She claimed that she is the one discovered this “East End cobbler”.
In 1996, Tamara Yeardye loaned money from his wealthy daddy Tommy Yeardye, known best for building Vidal Sassoon hair-care empire into an international brand.
Mellon and Choo became equal partner of the company called Jimmy Choo Ltd. Tamara became the president, while her dad Tom as the CEO. Sandra Choi was the creative director.
From then, Jimmy Choo remained just as an inactive partner. Mr Choo was no longer designing the collections and he had nothing to do with the company’s daily operation.
So am I right to say, all those sexy shoes worn by the celebrities in the Oscar red carpet, and used in the Hollywood movies (The Devil Wears Prada, Sex And The City, etc) are actually NOT designed by Malaysian Jimmy Choo Yeang Keat?
Now, Mellon is officially the founder and president of Jimmy Choo Ltd. Under her, the brand Jimmy Choo has gone in leaps and bounds. Ambitious Mellon is the person who brought Jimmy Choo’s rise in popularity by offering custom shoes to young, A-list Hollywood celebrities for their red-carpet walk.
In April 2001, Jimmy Choo Ltd teamed up with a new partnership, Equinox Luxury Holdings Ltd. And Equinox’s Chief Executive Robert Bensoussan bought up all of Jimmy’s 50% share (worth £10m) and he became CEO of Jimmy Choo Ltd. That day, the Malaysian shoemaker Jimmy Choo was out of Jimmy Choo Ltd empire. That was how Jimmy Choo lost his name, so to speak.
Jimmy did told the Irish Times early this year, that people still think he is associated with the ready-to-wear. He says, “It doesn’t matter that it isn’t me, but I created the ground, the foundation. They took over, but the name is still Jimmy Choo”
According to one site, Jimmy said that he likes working with individual clients rather than with mass shoe production. He wants each pair to be classy and unique. That is why he doesn’t feel happy about the new venture of the company that bears his name to make cheaper shoes for ordinary clientele.
Jimmy Choo said he has no regret over leaving Jimmy Choo label and he feels grateful to the late Tom Yeardye (Mellon’s late father), who promised to change his life and he was true to his words.
Sadly, now Jimmy Choo the man who, started it all, now cannot use his own name without someone else consent.
It is true without Jimmy Choo Yeang Keat, there is no Jimmy Choo the brand. But the fact is ,it is the shrewd Tamara Mellon who has turned Jimmy Choo into a luxury lifestyle brand famous the world over. Other than just ladies shoes, now Jimmy Choo has handbags, scarves, sungalsses, luggage, men’s shoes and even fragrance which launched early this year.
The question is, if this ambitious Mellon did not invest and develop it further, would Jimmy Choo the brand be as well-known as today? Or is it possible Mr Choo would be still cobbling away in his workshop in Hackney, East London?
Each time when Mr. Jimmy Choo is back in Malaysia, he is sure to be invited to official functions, local major fashion events, or some VIP business dinners. But back then, he was not even invited to swanky Jimmy Choo Ltd parties!
Recently there is a report in Malaysia latest news, Jimmy Choo wants to buy back Jimmy Choo. The brand with his own name, which he lost to the wealthy founder Tamara Mellon.
With financial backing from a British investment bank, Jimmy Choo is hoping to snap it back. Rumor has it that Mellon will never want the shoe empire to go back into Mr Choo’s hand!
While we wait and see whether Jimmy Choo the man can get back Jimmy Choo the brand, let’s enjoy this sexy Jimmy Choo the music video. It is sang by ex-convict rapper Shyne, featuring Ashanti.
Jimmy Choo Video By Shyne, featuring Ashanti