June 21, 2024

Jimmy Choo on the art of education and the future of fashion

The fashion footwear legend talks to Jing Daily’s EIC about the enduring power of artistry and educating future creators at the Jimmy Choo Academy.

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In the world of high fashion, where the tides of trend and tradition often collide — Jimmy Choo has navigated a course that's as much about constancy as it is about change.

Born in Penang, he has become an emblem of national pride. And for the country, there’s no native who’s more famous: if the Americans have Ralph Lauren, the Malaysians have Jimmy Choo.

At 75, he still has that distinct celebrity shimmer behind those signature aviator shades - his name synonymous with the sophisticated heel. Yet, beneath the sparkle lies a tale of persistence, history and the art of shoe-making that harks back to Choo's humble beginnings in Penang.

When he founded his eponymous label in 1996 with Tamara Mellon, the brand would go on to mark a chapter in the annals of fashion, making Choo one of the first Asian household designer names.

The brand's meteoric rise, bolstered by Princess Diana’s endorsement and Carrie Bradshaw’s obsession in the ‘Sex and the City’ TV series, was a triumph of brand building but also vindication of Choo's enduring allure.

Decades after his departure from the brand, Choo is now collaborating with his nephew, Yew Lau, on The Atelier, a couture label celebrated for its exquisite, handcrafted gowns produced in Penang and Kuala Lumpur.

Today, Choo is crafting a different legacy with the Jimmy Choo Academy (JCA), a fashion and design university in London, founded with Stephen Smith. The JCA serves as a young talent incubator where creativity meets business acumen, where students can push creative boundaries and hone industry skills, guided by seasoned professionals. It’s also where Choo hopes to pass on lessons from his own journey; the transformation of a quiet workshop corner into a global symposium of style.

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