View Jimmy Choo Footwear collections on London Fashion Review Blog
An Introduction to the Jimmy Choo Brand
The Jimmy Choo brand was founded in 1996 when Tamara Melton, Accessories Editor of British Vogue, saw a gap in the market for high-end designer accessories. She approached Malaysian-born bespoke shoe maker Jimmy Choo with the idea of launching a ready-to-wear womenswear shoe collection. Melton secured funding from her father for the business and managed to source manufacturers in Italy. In the same year, the Jimmy Choo brand opened its first shoe store in London’s prestigious Knightsbridge.
Although, Mr. Jimmy Choo sold his 50% stake in the brand in 2001 to Equinox Luxury Holding Ltd, the luxury footwear label grew from strength to strength under his name and the leadership of Tamara Mellon. The resulting cash injection was vital to the successful expansion of the Jimmy Choo Label. In less than two decades, Jimmy Choo has been transformed from a small bespoke shoemaker, with a single store, into a major global brand estimated to be worth £500m selling men’s and women’s shoes, handbags, small leather accessories, a bridal collection and perfume.
As of 2011 the Jimmy Choo brand had boutiques across the world. The handmade shoes, with a high-quality of craftsmanship, have earned the brand a host of loyal celebrity fans, which includes Madonna, Sarah Jessica Parker, Rachel Bilson and Tyra Banks.
Jimmy Choo Snapshot History
- 1983: Mr. Jimmy Choo graduates from Cordwainers Technical College in Hackney, Englandwhich is now part of the London College of Fashion.
- 1986: Mr. Jimmy Choo opens his workshop in London’s Hackney, inside an old hospital building. His designs were soon noticed and his footwear featured in an 8-page spread of Vogue magazine in 1988, followed by the patronage of HRH Princess Diana two years later in 1990.
- 1996: The luxury footwear brand Jimmy Choo Ltd is founded as a joint venture between Jimmy Choo and accessories Editor for British Vogue, Tamara Mellon.
- 2000: Madonna wears a pair of Jimmy Choo shoes to her wedding to Guy Richie.
- 2001: Jimmy Choo, the man himself, sells his 50% stake in the company to Equinox Luxury Holdings Ltd for £10 million. Equinox’s Chief Executive Robert Bensoussan became CEO of Jimmy Choo. Since then, Choo has concentrated on his exclusive Jimmy Choo Couture line produced under license from Jimmy Choo Ltd. Jimmy Choo’s niece and apprentice, Sandra Choi, stays on with the brand helping Mellon create the much-loved footwear collections.
- 2002: Mr. Jimmy Choo is awarded an OBE (Officer of the British Empire) by Her Majesty the Queen for services to the fashion industry.
- 2004: Hicks Muse (now known as Lion Capital) announces the majority acquisition of the Jimmy Choo brand; a deal which values the company at £101 million.
- 2007: The Jimmy Choo brand is acquired by private equity firm TowerBrook Capital Partners in a deal that values the label at £185 million.
- 2009: The Jimmy Choo brand expands its product line by launching its first perfume, by signing a 12-year licensing deal with global fragrance producer Inter Parfums SA, who also produces fragrances for Lanvin, Burberry, Paul Smith, and Christian Lacroix.
- 2010: Jimmy Choo was voted Britain’s most desirable brand by OK Magazine, followed by Jack Wills and Louis Vuitton. Also this year, co-founder of the brand, Tamara Mellon received an OBE in the Birthday Honours. Just months after Mellon receives the OBE she is appointed as Business Ambassador for Britain by Prime Minister David Cameron as part of his plans to boost the UK economy by opening new markets, increasing trade and encouraging investment. Additionally, Tamara is named as Chief Creative Officer for the Jimmy Choo brand; in her new role Tamara is responsible for overseeing the company’s brand image, design, PR and advertising.
- 2011: The brand launches its first line of men’s footwear, which includes a pair of crocodile-print Hunter Welington boots, gentlemen’s evening slippers and cashmere high-top sneakers. Also this year, the Jimmy Choo label changes hands once again when the luxury goods group, Labelux, purchased the brand in a deal worth £500 million.
What the Man Did Next: Jimmy Choo Couture
Since selling his stake in the his namesake label back in 2001, Jimmy Choo has concentrated on the exclusive Jimmy Choo Couture line produced under license from Jimmy Choo Ltd. Under Jimmy Choo Couture, Choo still actively works with his team in the production and design of bespoke handmade shoes, which are available, by appointment only, on London’s Connaught Street.
“I don’t do the catwalk any more. I wanted to sell my ready-to-wear shoe business, so I could be a free person. As such, I now concentrate only on my couture label, and this is much better for me and the family, so this is what I will continue to do now.” – Jimmy Choo.
As well as being heavily involved in the Jimmy Choo Couture line, Choo is also involved in a project to set up a shoe making business in his native Malaysia.
“I live in London and remain involved in the shoemaking institute in Malaysia. My inspiration now is to give my knowledge back to the country and to younger generations. I want to help break down barriers amongst young people at say, 18 years old and encourage and teach them some basic knowledge about making shoes.” – Jimmy Choo.
Recent High Profile Collaborations of Jimmy Choo
Hunter: In 2009, Jimmy Choo, collaborated with iconic British footwear brand Hunter, famed for their Wellington boots, which are worn by many a starlet at music festivals, as well as on the streets. The classic Hunter Wellington is given the signature Jimmy Choo black crocodile print along with a gold buckle belt and a leopard print lining.
“I was inspired by images from the festivals of the hip Brit girls in their wellies. This led to our collaboration with Hunter to produce a sleek interpretation of the British classic.” – Tamara Mellon, Chief Creative Officer of Jimmy Choo
Rachel Bilson with her Hunter x Jimmy Choo Boots
H&M: Also in 2009, Jimmy Choo teamed up with global fashion brand H&M to create a limited edition capsule collection that was stocked in 200 H&M stores throughout the globe. After previous high profile collaborations with designer brands such as Karl Lagerfeld, Matthew Williamson, Stella McCartney and Viktor & Rolf, it is the first time that H&M teams up with an accessory label. To celebrate the collaboration, Jimmy Choo also created a line of women’s clothing for H&M; the collection also featured shoes and bags for men and women, and a line of men’s gadgets. H&M creative advisor Margareta van den Bosch said of the collaboration.
“We adore Jimmy Choo’s shoes and bags. They are glamorous and sexy, and they add instant style to the simplest of outfits. I like the way we have worked with clothes to accessorize the shoes and bags rather than the other way around”.
Ugg Australia: In 2010, Jimmy Choo announced that they would be collaborating with Ugg Australia on a limited edition collection of women’s sheepskin footwear. The co-branded capsule collection was based on UGG’s iconic sheepskin boot and decorated with Jimmy Choo details. The line featured five styles including the classic UGG boot with Jimmy Choo studding, stars, grommets, leopard, zebra and hobo fringing detail and was available in a range of colours including black, chestnut, chocolate, zebra print and leopard print. The boots were sold at Jimmy Choo and Ugg Australia stores as well as a selection of prestigious department stores which carry the Jimmy Choo label, and featured in an ad campaign starring model, Amber Valletta.
“Other than Jimmy Choo, UGG Australia is the only other footwear I have in my wardrobe”. – Tamara Melton, co-founder of Jimmy Choo.
Changing Hands: The Buying and Selling of Jimmy Choo
In April 2001, Mr Jimmy Choo sold his 50% stake in the brand for £10 million to Equinox Luxury Holdings Ltd. Chief Executive of Equinox, Robert Bensoussan, became the CEO of the Jimmy Choo brand. By this point, Jimmy Choo had over 100 wholesale clients and the extra cash injection marked a step forward for the company. It allowed the brand to expand and produce a new line of accessories and small leather goods. Within just three years, the Jimmy Choo brand had opened a further 26 new stores, in addition to the four they had in 2001. This was the start of a long saga of the Jimmy Choo brand changing hands.
In November of 2004, in a seemingly bizarre deal, the majority share of Jimmy Choo was bought by Hicks Muse, the owner of Typhoo tea and Weetabix; the takeover deal valued the company at £101 million. A spokesman for Hicks Muse said: “Jimmy Choo is an iconic luxury goods brand and we have no intention of moving away from that.” Hicks Muse, bought out part of Robert Bensoussan’s and Tamara Mellon’s stake for a 75% majority stake in the business. Tamara Mellon was to stay on as Creative Director as was Robert Bensoussan as Chief Executive Officer.
At this point in Jimmy Choo’s history, the brand operated through 20 standalone stores throughout Britain, the US and Italy and was sold through an additional 200 outlets, including Harvey Nichols and Harrods. Sales for the year were expected to reach £40 million and Hicks Muse intended to open about 30 more stores and support the launch of new products such as leather accessories.
In February of 2007, Jimmy Choo was to change hands once again, when the majority shareholding was acquired by the international private equity firm, TowerBrook Capital Partners in a deal that valued the company at £185 million. TowerBrook was the lead investor and majority owner of the company, but Gala Capital, the Spanish private equity firm, also invested in the takeover. Again Tamara Melton remained to have a direct oversight of the brands creative direction and image, working in collaboration with Creative Director Sandra Choi and Chief Executive Officer Robert Bensoussan.
At this point in the Jimmy Choo story, the brand,had increased from 23 stores to 60 standalone stores worldwide, including recently opened stores in Chicago, Hong Kong, Miami, Singapore and Tokyo. The range of products had also been successfully extended from shoes to bags and small leather goods. Sales of Jimmy Choo had increased once again to £65 million annually.
“TowerBrook is delighted to acquire Jimmy Choo, one of the most innovative and successful brands in the luxury goods sector… we look forward to working with the management team to continue Jimmy Choo’s dramatic growth and success.” – Ramez Sousou, Co-CEO of TowerBrook.
In September of 2010, rumours began circulating that Tamara Mellon was considering buying back the Jimmy Choo brand. A handful of sovereign wealth funds, pension funds and private individuals were believed to have approached Mellon about backing her in a £500m bid. It was rumoured that Mellon was weighing up her options and the realities of leading a bid alongside Joshua Schulman, Chief Executive of Jimmy Choo. But, this takeover was one that wasn’t to happen.
In February of 2011 is was announced that TowerBrook Capital were to put the Jimmy Choo brand up for sale and issued a memo stating that there was 10 potential buyers interested in the brand. TowerBrook Capital were also exploring alternative options including retaining a majority share in the label and refinancing the business. Buyers rumoured to be interested in acquiring the Jimmy Choo brand were LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton SA, the world’s largest maker of luxury goods, and Mr. Jimmy Choo himself. At the beginning of May in 2011, it seemed that the Jimmy Choo were considering, another option of an initial public listing on the stock market.
It was finally announced on the 22nd of May that the European luxury goods group, Labelux, were to purchase the Jimmy Choo brand. Labelux, who also own retailer Bally and Derek Lamb’s ready-to-wear label, paid a reported £500 million for the luxury footwear and accessories brand. The sale was good news for co-founder Tamara Mellon, with her 17% stake being valued at £85 million, greatly increasing her personal fortune. As she has since the very beginning, Tamara Mellon remains at the heart of the brand,continuing her position as Creative Director.Joshua Schulman continues on in his role as Chief Executive.
The Future of Jimmy Choo
At the time of Labelux’s acquisition of Jimmy Choo, the brand had 120 standalone stores throughout the globe, with sales hitting £150 million for the 2010 financial year, up 10% from the previous year. Clearly already a successful global brand, it will certainly be interesting to see how the cash injection can further improve the fortunes of Jimmy Choo Ltd.
Check out the official Jimmy Choo website here.