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Jimmy Choo, OBE, born Choo Yeang Keat, (Chinese: 周仰杰; pinyin: Zhōu Yǎngjié) is a Malaysian Chinese fashion designer based in London, United Kingdom. He is best known for founding Jimmy Choo Ltd that became known for its handmade women's shoes.
Choo was born in Penang, Malaysia, into a family of shoemakers, who are of Chinese Hakka descent. His family name is Chow but was misspelt on his birth certificate as Choo. He made his first shoe when he was 11 years old. He is perhaps the most notable of students of Cordwainers Technical College in Hackney, England, from which he graduated in 1983. (The college is now part of the London College of Fashion at University of the Arts London.) Choo has divulged that he worked part-time at restaurants and as a cleaner at a shoe factory to help fund his college education.
Jimmy Choo traced his beginnings back to his workshop in Hackney, North London, which he opened in 1986 by renting an old hospital building. His craftsmanship and designs were soon noticed and he came to the verge of international notability when his creations were featured in a record eight pages in a 1988 issue of Vogue. Patronage from Diana, Princess of Wales, from 1990 further boosted his image.
In 1996, he 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 Mellon. The ready-to-wear line has expanded to include accessories such as handbags.
Choo lives in London and is currently involved in a project to set up a shoemaking institute in Malaysia, where his iconic status is often evoked to inspire budding shoemakers and fashion designers. Jimmy Choo Ltd. produces some of the most expensive high-end shoes.