Luxury footwear pioneer Professor Jimmy Choo OBE has announced he is launching a £18,000-a-year fashion academy in London.
The fashion designer, 72, will open the doors of the JCA | London Fashion Academy in Mayfair this September, which is on track to become the UK's newest university exclusively dedicated to fashion.
A group of 100 students will study fashion design and entrepreneurship at three levels, foundation diploma, undergraduate and postgraduate, with Jimmy acting as a hands-on guide for the aspiring designers.
Speaking with The Times, he explained: 'London is still home to me, so I'll be in and out. I want to see what they're doing. I want to talk to them, to make sure they come to the academy to study, not because they want to be famous.'
Luxury footwear pioneer Professor Jimmy Choo OBE, 72, has announced he is launching a £18,000-a-year fashion academy in London
The fashion designer revealed the idea of him launching a school came from his children, and said he had been working on the plans for several years.
The idea of the project has kept the 72-year-old busy during the Covid-19 crisis while he has been locked down in his second home in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia and his wife and family are living in London.
He said he had noticed many designers 'do not know about business', saying: 'My vision for the academy is to teach them my knowledge for design, but also to have a business mind as well.'
He said he had learned his business skills 'slowly' over 'years and years', adding: 'The Chinese always say, "When you drink water, think about where the water came from".'
The Academy's courses combine the latest teachings in contemporary design with the entrepreneurial skills required to set-up and drive successful fashion brands of the future
The Academy's courses combine the latest teachings in contemporary design with the entrepreneurial skills required to set-up and drive successful fashion brands of the future.
Jimmy plans to help nurture students into emerging professional designers through a mentored approach.
The pupils will be provided with a level of access to internationally recognised design leaders unrivalled by traditional colleges and universities.
He explained: 'The Academy has been years in planning, so we are delighted to be opening its doors this September.
Jimmy Choo's brand is beloved by celebrities and royals alike, with the Duchess of Sussex and Duchess of Cambridge regularly stepping out in shoes by the designer
'London is a global fashion hub and has created many of the world's most exciting and ground-breaking designers.
'Rarely though do these designers leave higher education armed with the combined knowledge, skills and resources needed to create, launch and build brands successfully on the global stage.
'The Academy will help bridge those gaps and truly nurture internationally-focused and highly entrepreneurial design talent.'
THE JIMMY CHOO JOURNEY
Jimmy Choo Ltd was founded in 1996 by Tamara Mellon, then British Vogue's accessories editor, and Malaysian couture cobbler Jimmy Choo, who ran a successful but small business in the East End of London.
Mellon secured a £150,000 loan from her father, businessman Tom Yeardye, to go into business with Choo, with the first products sold under the Jimmy Choo London line.
The brand was immortalised in the TV show Sex and the City, when Sarah Jessica Parker's character Carrie revealed it was her favourite store.
In April 2001 Mr Choo sold his share in the ready-to-wear business to Equinox Luxury Holdings Ltd. He now runs a London atelier under the name Jimmy Choo's shoes, and is in the process of setting up a shoe-making institute in Malaysia.
Lion Capital acquired a majority shareholding in Jimmy Choo Ltd in November 2004.
The company was sold in 2007 to TowerBrook Capital Partners for £225 million, with Mellon retaining a number of shares.
In 2010, Mellon was awarded the OBE for her services to business.
It was later sold to Labelux, the current owners, for £525.5 million in 2011 with J.Choo Limited remaining the company name throughout.
Mellon agreed to stay on in a creative consultancy role but severed all ties in 2011.
The JCA | London Fashion Academy has curated a syllabus inspired by Professor Jimmy Choo's experiences in building his own luxury super-brand as well as the multi-faceted skill sets which fashion designers increasingly need in today's ultra-competitive multi-channel global landscape.
Universities Minister Michelle Donelan said: 'It is brilliant to see new exciting and innovative institutions expanding the boundaries of higher education as a result of Government reforms.
'It is vital that students gain the practical skills and hands-on experience that employers and industries need and the JCA's revolutionary approach can help students hit the ground running into a successful career.'