The Jimmy Choo-Choo Train to....

Written by Martin Lucas
Where are Jimmy Choo heading?
It’s a conundrum that has been puzzling me since Jimmy Choo was sold to Labelux in 2011 and ultimately it’s parent group Jab Holdings (wiki tells you more) The sale was somewhat fraught and Tamara Mellon (co-founder) was no longer going to be part of Jimmy Choo, which was a major red flag to me as major corporations like Jab have no fashionista drive, no emotional connection and I will let Giorgio explain the challenge I foresaw:
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Cool quote, not much the man does that isn’t cool! More to come about the conundrum, let me load you with some more knowledge first.
Background I am very familiar with Jimmy Choo and their history and followed the movements of Tamara and her brand as she borrowed money to take the quality of this shoe designer, Mr Choo, she had discovered to fashion stardom and I was always interested in each range they dropped and analysing the aesthetic and working out the thought process of the design and what it meant for the fashion world and ultimately how they engaged with their audience. I believe there is a beauty in the aesthetic of well a crafted shoe, it’s an art form and that is why my red flag was raised.

2012

If you ever get the chance go to Jimmy Choo in the Venetian, Las Vegas, you will have the pleasure of meeting Richard, who runs the Choo store there, he is a wonderful character, really knows his stuff and we have discussed design many times as my wife ran around the store like a rampant wildebeest trying on shoes, more shoes and a little bit more shoes. 2012 was my first time fully immersed in a store since the brand was sold (I don’t generally visit the UK stores, only US stores where I spend more of my study time looking at buyer’s behaviours, storefronts, footfall, flow, adverts). My instinct was switched on as soon as we went inside the store, what immediately struck me was the lack of range of shoe models (characters as they name them), it had changed from more range to less models but more colour variables of the models that did exist.

So what?

Well each year since has been a fun challenge to look and see if this was a one off experience or the beginning of a pattern of change. What generally happens when a notable brand is sold is that the new owners evaluate the quality vs quantity of their system of production, they try to work out if they can produce more for less, in the case of shoes production the decision was to make more colour options but a lot less range.
This is not an issue in itself but what has made this challenge more risky is that the design itself has diminished with a big IF, design is subjective but each year there seems to less and less dare to the design and more mass production. The big IF is about strategy, I believe Jab have decided to aim for a more mature affluent target market than the general approach to engaging all ages who loved the brand that Tamara championed. Now mature does not mean you don’t like risky design but in a monetary strategic sense you would just lessen the risk and maximise production of more acceptable designs.

Am I right?

Judge for yourself, I will add my own one liner for these recent adverts and imagery:
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Grandmothers slippers beside the bed
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Cut off heads and potential customers disengage, they won’t buy
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Grandad's slippers with Grannies in a cheap motel
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Boom! Cinderella indeed
Let us detour to Christian Louboutin as direct competitor and a brand still run by the founder:
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Gorgeous, artistic, playful
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Cool, fun, mischief = Desire to buy
Can you see what I mean about target markets? Who is Jimmy Choo engaging with? The Cinderella play is clever and awesome for wedding shoes or glitter balls but the rest is a bit meh, whereas Louboutin continues to crush it and attract all sorts of people who desire what they represent and design.
Where is the Jimmy Choo-Choo train heading? We will find out as time goes on….