Just days before Tamara Mellon filed a lawsuit against Jimmy Choo on Thursday, she talked to FN for our special issue marking the brand’s 20th anniversary.
Here’s what she had to say about the company she co-founded in 1996.
Overall reflections: “It’s crazy to me to think I founded Jimmy Choo 20 years ago, when I was 27 years old. We were pioneering in the accessories business. When I started the company, there was only one other shoe brand that had any significance, Manolo Blahnik. We caught the wave of accessories exploding. I realized the opportunity was there for shoes, and we did things that were ahead of their time. Within three years, we opened three stores in the U.S. It took most British brands 20 years to do that.”
The brand’s tipping point: “The spring ’98 collection. When I opened the boxes and saw the samples, it was the most exciting moment. I knew we had a winner. The shoes were so beautiful and innovative. That was the collection when ‘Sex and the City’ picked up the feather sandal, which Carrie Bradshaw [lost on the Staten Island ferry]. That was a breakthrough moment.”
Red-carpet influence: “I remember being on the phone from London at 3 a.m. with my PR agency trying to organize for Cate Blanchett to wear the shoes. I thought to myself, ‘This is crazy — why aren’t we there?’ No one was offering a service for shoes. I decided to set up the showroom where [celebrities and stylists] could buy shoes to match the dresses. I ordered everything in white satin or black satin so we could customize the shoes to match the dresses.”
The deal-making process: “We were one of the first fashion companies to bring private equity into the business. Those deals were tough for the company to go through, but we kept growing through the disruption. I left behind a company I’m extremely proud of.”