Fashion company Michael Kors buys shoemaker Jimmy Choo: 5 things to know about the luxury shoe brand

Designer Jimmy Choo poses with his one-off shoes made with materials from Japan's Fukushima area in an April 2014 photograph.
Designer Jimmy Choo poses with his one-off shoes made with materials from Japan's Fukushima area in an April 2014 photograph.PHOTO: AFP

Jimmy Choo, a London-based luxury shoe brand known for its stiletto heels, has been snapped up by Michael Kors Holdings for about £896 million (S$1.59 billion).

The brand, which was founded in the 1990s, put itself up for sale in April after its majority shareholder disclosed its intention to move away from fashion to focus more on its food and beverage businesses.

The acquisition is expected to give fashion company Michael Kors a boost. The brand has seen sales dip in recent months, with fewer people visiting its stores.

Here are five things you need to know about Jimmy Choo.

1. He has many famous customers

Some of his famous clientele include the late Princess Diana. Choo used to bring shoe samples for her to try on at Kensington Palace.

 

The Duchess of Cambridge is also reportedly a fan.

Choo is royalty himself, in a way - he was  given the title Dato by the Sultan of Pahang in 2000.

In the United States, when George W. Bush was inaugurated as the 43rd President of the United States in 2001, his twin daughters' shoe of choice for the occasion were Jimmy Choo cashmere stiletto boots.

Other Jimmy Choo fans include American singer Madonna, American model Kendall Jenner and actress Jennifer Aniston.

2. He started his first shoe label in London in the 1980s

Choo followed the footsteps of his father, who was also a shoemaker. But he further refined his skills at the then Cordwainers Technical College in London (now part of the London College of Fashion), and started his first label Lucky Shoes in the 1980s. He reportedly made his first pair of shoes when he was 11 years old.

3. He believes in feng shui


A man walks past a window display at a branch of Jimmy Choo in London. PHOTO: REUTERS

Choo had a feng shui master from Malaysia flown in to assess his new store near Harvey Nichols in London. He was advised to make sure that the cash register faced away from the door. The rationale was so that the money would not walk out.

4. Jimmy Choo shoes are not designed by Jimmy Choo

As Choo sold his 50 per cent share of the brand in 2001, the ready-to-wear shoes that bear his name and branding are not actually designed by him. His niece, Sandra Choi, designs the shoes now. Choo still makes shoes, but for his couture line, Jimmy Choo Couture.


Famed shoe designer Jimmy Choo in an interview in Fukushima, Japan, in 2014 at the launch of a range of footwear made using materials and techniques native to the area. PHOTO: AFP

5. He made high heels inspired by artists in Fukushima, Japan

In 2014, Choo made six pairs of high heels using materials native to Fukushima such as Aizu cotton and lacquerware and Kawamata silk.

Choo was inspired by the Fukushima craftsmen and materials after visiting workshops in the area, and created the shoes to promote the artists who were struggling to rebuild their lives after the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster in 2011.

The shoes were donated to local organisations in Fukushima after being exhibited.