KUALA LUMPUR: Shoe couturier to the glitterati Prof Datuk Dr Jimmy Choo is now the most famous Malaysian after the Bond girl Datuk Michelle Yeoh.
The phenomenal success enjoyed by Choo in his fashion designing career has turned him into one of the world’s richest designers with an estimated net worth of US$50 million (RM2.08 billion). Despite his success, Choo remains humble.
“I never claim that I am successful because this gives me a reason to keep on learning,” says Choo at the Malaysia Fashion Week 2015 organised by the Malaysian External Trade Development Corporation (MATRADE).
“My advice to young designers – Be simple, I’m still the same person. Be confident and come out with something new,” says the soft-spoken global fashion icon.
“If I can make it, so can you,” Choo, who is MFW honorary adviser told Bernama Plus.
AGE DOES NOT MATTER
For Choo, 64, age does not matter.
“I’m not very old and not very young. I never feel old, people ask me how old I am, I can’t remember. I want the world to know I still want to work. I want to work hard, maintain my vision and share my knowledge with people.”
“To young people who want to succeed, you have to work hard and open your mind. You still have to keep learning,” he adds.
“The younger generation of today are more important and more intelligent than me. With new technology, you can learn more. But what’s important is you should believe in yourself and help each other,” adds Choo, the son of a cobbler.
After learning from his father about the craft of shoemaking, Choo made his way to England in the early 1980s to study at the Cordwainers Technical College in Hackney, where he graduated with honours in 1983.
His first shoes were sold under the Lucky Shoes brand in 1984 and he opened his own workshop in an old hospital building in East London in 1986, completely immersing himself in his designs.
In 1988, he was discovered by Vogue, the high profile magazine publishing an eight-page spread of his work. Choo found further success with the help of the late Princess Diana who ordered six pairs of shoes after meeting him for the first time.
My shoes cost 30 pounds each but few people came to buy them. Now, you can’t even get (to buy) Jimmy Choo’s shoes as they are too expensive,” he recalls, noting that he persevered despite criticisms and ridicule he received in the initial stage.
He has since sold 50 per cent of his ready-to-wear line to focus on Jimmy Choo Couture, spending most of his energy and time making couture shoes by hand.
Today, Choo, who has one daughter, resides with his wife Rebecca in London. By the late 1990s, Choo had stores in Los Angeles and New York and lineup of Hollywood celebrities that included Julia Roberts, Madonna and Renee Zellweger.