< Interviews >

MFW SS13: Chit Chit Chat with… Jimmy Choo’s Sandra Choi and Simon Holloway

Tina Loves: Okay, so why don’t we just start from the very beginning? How did you get into fashion? Why did you want to get into fashion? And how did that lead you to Jimmy Choo?

Sandra Choi: The beginning! I’ve always loved fashion. As a young girl, I grew up in Hong Kong and at a young age I was into Japanese magazines. I moved back to the UK when I was 13 and I love designing, but getting into shoes was by accident. I saw a John Galliano outfit in a magazine, and it was the piece with the asymmetric buttons. It was really abstract and I loved it. I think I was about 14 years old, so I thought okay fashion is what I want to do.

My uncle is Jimmy Choo and as a Chinese, you go and help your family. He designs and makes shoes. His forte is making really beautiful shoes and that’s when I got into helping him to make things and learn the trade and how shoes are constructed. That’s how I kind of merged the two together and the rest is history!

TL: And you?

Simon Holloway: I grew up between England and America because my family lived there. So we went back and forth a lot. I was in boarding school reading fashion magazines like i-D,  The Face  and Vogue. I left and went to art school to study fashion when I was 16. I did two degrees in fashion design and then I started working and I went to Paris for about a year, then moved back to the US. I worked for a number of designers over there like Narciso Rodriguez and Ralph Lauren. I moved back to London almost three years ago and started at Jimmy Choo.

TL: Nice! How has it been so far?

SH:  It’s been really fun! We work with really great people and it’s a real pleasure to go in to the office every day to create beautiful things for stylish women and men around the world!

SC: We work in a way that we’re very complimentary to each other, because I have only been at Jimmy Choo and that’s been for the last 16 years. Simon’s experiences are very much brought in to balance everything that we want to create going forward. There is so much to do at Jimmy Choo, whether it’s with the image, whether the it’s branding, whether it’s with the actual product itself. So we found that we balance each other very well.

TL: What do you think makes a covetable shoe?

SH: It has to have an element of fantasy to it and it also has to be something that makes your feet look beautiful.

SC: I think shoes are a form. There is a fine line that you don’t cross. Objects in a way today, you can see very many crazy things out there. I think whether it is good or bad, I think you can still make it in to magazines sometimes and it’s a matter of taste. For us, we always respect every product that we do because they are beautiful and creative.

TL: And how do you guys test whether it’s comfortable or things like that?

SH: Having lots of people trying them on!

SC: I actually try them all on and all the samples are made in my size and the girls in the office actually trade them around to make sure that they’re okay….

SH: And even the handbags are all tested as well. Everybody uses them to make sure that they work before we sell them.

TL: So can you just take me through a typical day at the office?

SH: I dont think we have a typical day. Typical season is, we start with a story and we put it together using lots of visual elements from movies, old magazines, people on the street, music… We work on color a lot, and then we just go through step by step in building a collection.

SC: We we come up with a concept or a story. We go on a inspiration trip. So we go shopping up the road to Portobello or we’ll go to a different country.

TL: So you spark your inspiration by going on a trip first?

SH: It’s a chance to get away from the office and really think of what we want to do next.

SC: I like to call it a ‘decleanse’, because we just worked on our last collection and we don’t want to think about it.

TL: So for this SS13 collection, where did you guys go?

SH: Oh, we took a trip to Rio de Janeiro, but we didn’t want it to feel like the collection was inspired by Rio. For the Cruise and Spring/Summer collection, we wanted….

SC: …a free spirit, a sense of travel. We really wanted to approach romance. Romance for us is a slightly different species. It is very rare and we wanted to mix it into our own aesthetic.

TL: What do you mean by rare?

SC: Rare meaning we do shapes that are harder, a bit more aggressive…

SH: We didn’t want obvious sexy. We wanted to make it softer and more subtle.

SC: Exactly.

TL: Will you guys be expanding to other areas like, say, jewelry?

SH: We just very recently launched men’s shoes and we also very recently launched women’s fragrance. We’re starting now to build out these other pieces of the lifestyle of Jimmy Choo and I would say the door is open to any possibilities at this point. But those are the two main focuses for us right now, men’s shoes and obviously maintaining  the success we have in women’s and also working very hard on our beauty area too.

SC: And we have sunglasses…

SH: It’s interesting when we take these steps into new products like sunglasses and, in particular perfume, and men’s too…its gone very, very successfully. So we are very lucky!

TL: How would you describe the Jimmy Choo look?

SC: I think she is sexy, glamorous, and confident. I like to think there is a certain attitude to the product that we do and the girl who is wearing it. And I think she’s serious about fashion and at the same time, she wants to have fun! She wants to have a laugh, she wants to hang out, she wants to go out.

SH: There is definitely a sense of modern glamor; its never old fashioned. It’s very now. It’s very happening. It’s definitely not an intellectual place. It’s very easy to understand. Hopefully, we’re always on the right side of tasteful and I think that’s very important. And also theres a diversity in the collection that appeals to many different types of women. So we dress those who are very social, who work very hard, and you know, women who lead real lives, not just a fantasy…even if there may be a little fantasy to the story each season.

TL: So is there one woman you think that epitomizes the Jimmy Choo brand?

SC: Hard to say. It’s every woman I think.

SH: I mean there are lots of amazing women who wear Jimmy Choo. Everybody from Michelle Obama to Gywneth Paltrow and fabulous women that we’ve never met.

TL: Well, like Shu Qi! Let’s speak a little about that collaboration. How did that come to be?

SH: Well, she’s been wearing Jimmy Choo shoes for quite some time now. So I think there was a natural affinity for her to the brand. Obviously we think she’s a very glamorous person.

SC: She’s also a respected actress, who’s a little bit more international. So in that sense she’s the right fit.

SH: There’s also a side to her that’s very natural and very approachable, which we love as well.

TL: So I heard you had design meetings with her yesterday? How did that go?

SH: Well, she liked so many things. It was really exciting!

SC: It was a nice meeting just to get to know her. Ultimately, a celebrity or the personalities, the people you’ve seen in magazines, we don’t know them…

SH: Because you know there are a lot of times that the stylist does all the work with the client, so it’s very rare for us to deal with them directly. So it was a very nice meeting, and she was enthusiastic and sweet.

TL: So what happens next? You guys meet now and…

SC: We talked about the things she likes, the color range, and what she expects to wear.

SH: What kind of heel height… And she kind of wanted us to surprise her.

T: Oh wow! Nice. Lots of freedom!

SH: She was explaining to us that sometimes she likes to build the outfit from the shoes first, and then find the dress to match. So that’s perfect for us!

TL: Oh yes, perfect! How many styles are you doing?

SC: I think we are going to do maybe about six or seven, one for every day of the week. And they’ll all be totally different and dynamic.

TL: So it’s going to be for next season or it’s not a seasonal thing?

SH: It has a special timing all on its own.

TL: And it’s not going to be sold to anyone else later on or…?

SH: No, there might be some similarities and things in the collection, but these are made exclusively for her. I mean there is one picture that we showed her and she said I want that one just like that, so that’s already in the collection.

TL: On to social media, what do you guys think of it? How do you think Jimmy Choo uses social media to their advantage?

SC:  I love the fact that everything is quite instant. So it’s a moment, it’s a feeling that you’ve just captured. So there’s no turning back. There’s no time actually to edit anything, it’s immediate. It’s almost like instinct, which is nice.  It’s that connection to everybody. The world is getting smaller and smaller and it’s actually nice to know what the general public people think about what we do. And we want to share our moments with everyone else too. It’s a language.

SH: So it was a couple of months ago that we launched the site called 24:7 Stylemakers. It’s a micro site, part of the Jimmy Choo online world. And it’s a great social media space where fans of Jimmy Choo can take pictures of themselves wearing our shoes and upload their photographs to the site. So we are already working in a very interactive way with fans of Jimmy Choo and customers of Jimmy Choo. Each season we also work with a stylish woman in a great city and they do a great fun photo shoot using all of our products, but styled in their own way, which is also part of this micro site.

SC: It’s very nice to see how normal everyday girls around the world today put on our shoes with whatever they’re dreaming of. I mean it’s kind of like breaking down the barrier of magazines with the individual styling. We sometimes look at the pictures and think, oh my gosh, she looks good!

TL: So with this SS13 collection, what is your favorite shoe or bag?

SCL I love the lace up gladiator sandal high heels.

TL: And do you have any other future plans for Asia specifically?

SH: Probably just more store openings!

TL: Nice! Is there anything else you would like to add?

SC: We are aware of Asia, let’s put it that way!

TL: Okay, perfect! Thank you so much guys!

SH: Thank you. It was so nice to hang out with you!

TL: Yes and with you!

 

 

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