Jimmy Choo Yeang Keat
15 November 1948 (age 70)
George TownCrown Colony of Penang (now Malaysia
|Alma mater||Cordwainers Technical College|
|Children||2; Danny Choo and Emily Choo|
Choo Kee Yin (father)
Datuk Jimmy Choo Yeang Keat PJN DIMP DSPN OBE (born 15 November 1948) is a Malaysian fashion designer based in the United Kingdom. He is best known for co-founding Jimmy Choo Ltd, which became known for its handmade women’s shoes.
Choo was born in Penang, Malaysia, into a family of shoemakers. His family name is Chow but was misspelled on his birth certificate as Choo. He studied at Shih Chung Primary School in Love Lane, Penang. Choo’s father, a shoemaker who made all of his shoes by hand, taught him how to make shoes. Choo made his first pair of shoes when he was 11 years old, a pair of slippers.
Between 1982 and 1984, Choo studied at Cordwainers Technical College in Hackney (now part of the London College of Fashion) in London, England. He went to a design firm to work after graduation, wishing to remain in London instead of going back to Malaysia.
After college, Choo worked at two design companies for a total of nine years before opening his own business. Choo’s parents moved to Britain to help him get started, and he eventually expanded the business by opening his own shop in 1986, renting an old hospital building. His craftsmanship and designs were soon noticed at London Fashion Week in 1988. After seeing his creations, Vogue featured the shoes in an eight page spread. Choo has said that his designs became significantly more popular after the Vogue coverage. Patronage from Diana, Princess of Wales in the early 1990’s further boosted his image.
In 1996, Choo co-founded Jimmy Choo Ltd with British Vogue magazine accessories editor Tamara Mellon. In April 2001, Choo sold his 50% stake in the company for £10 million. He has since concentrated his work on the exclusive Jimmy Choo couture line produced under license from Jimmy Choo Ltd. The Jimmy Choo London line, also known as Jimmy Choo Ready-To-Wear or, simply, Jimmy Choo, is under the purview of Tamara Mellon. The ready-to-wear line has expanded to include accessories such as handbags.
Awards and honours
- 2002: Conferred anOBE (Order of the British Empire) in recognition of his services to the shoe and fashion industry in the UK
- 2004: Awarded an honorary doctorate in art by De Montfort University, Leicester, UK, for his contribution to their unique Single Honours Footwear Design degree
- 2009: Awarded an Honorary Fellowship by University of the Arts London
- 2011: Winner of “The World’s Outstanding Malaysian Designer 2011” Design for Asia Award for the “Daniel” part
- 2012: Received You Bring Charm to the World – the Most Influential Malaysian Award
- 2013: Became a member of the Red Dot product design jury.
Choo lives in London and is currently involved in a project to set up a shoemaking institute in Malaysia. His company continues to produce expensive high-end shoes.
He is married to Rebecca Choo (née Choi) from Hong Kong. The couple have a son, Danny, and a daughter, Emily. A niece of the couple, Lucy Choi, followed in her uncle’s footsteps by becoming a shoe designer.
He is mentioned in Fetty Wap’s 2015 hit titled “Jimmy Choo”, Placebo’s track “Follow the cops back home”, Vybz Kartel’s song “Yabba Dabba Doo” and the Bollywood hit song “Abhi toh Party Shuru Hui Hai” from the movie “Khubsurat” (2014).
Choo and his designer godson Reggie Hung have launched a spectacular exhibition “Genavant- Step to Elegance” at the Cambridge International Art Gallery on 2 February 2018 filled with ‘elegance and grace’.