It’s a good time to be a shoemaker. Today, the celebrity-fueled success of Jimmy Choo reached new heights, going public in London at 140 pence a share, giving the shoe and accessories maker an equity value of £547.5 million ($875.7 million).
How it all began
The Jimmy Choo fairy tale begins with a simple cobbler. Jimmy Choo was the son of a poor cobbler in northern Malaysia, making his first pair of shoes at age 11. He scraped together the funds to open a tiny shoe shop in East London in 1986, renting out a room in an abandoned hospital building, where Alexander McQueen also launched his business. He made shoes to order for private clients- and the fashion world took notice.
Tamara Mellon, accessories editor for UK Vogue, profiled the small, bespoke shoemaker in a lavish spread in 1988. The shoes started to get so popular that Choo couldn’t keep up with demand and had to bring in his niece, Sandra Choi, in to run operations. Mellon, it turned out, liked his shoes so much, that she bought the company. In 1996, Mellon left Vogue to turn the Jimmy Choo brand into a global fashion phenomenon.
The mid-90s were the halcyon days for Jimmy Choo, with Princess Diana as a big fan and a recurring role for his shoes in the series “Sex and the City.” After Carrie “lost her Choo,” women all over the world found the brand. His high heels were featured in “The Devil Wears Prada,” “Legally Blonde 2,” and on red carpets around the world. It all became a bit too much for the quiet Choo, who cashed out of his own company in 2001 and returned to making a few shoes a week for private clients.
By 2004, Lion Capital acquired the company, now led by Mellon, and valued it at £101 million. Just seven years later, Mellon walked away when Labelux acquired the company for £500 million, leaving Sandra Choi in charge.
Jimmy Choo has now listed a 25.9 percent stake in its new holding company, Jimmy Choo Ltd. in London. It floated its shares on Friday, 17 October 2014 at 140 pence a share, the bottom of its price range, which gives the shoe company a value of $875.7 million. Jimmy Choo marks the first publicly traded, stand-alone luxury footwear brand.
To celebrate this giant step (pun intended), we’ve compiled some fun facts on how Jimmy Choo came to be such a global phenomenon: