Yesterday I had the good fortune to meet Jimmy Choo, shoe-making-designing-entrepreneur extraordinaire, at a talk organised by UAL. I freaked out when I saw him, because he looked really serious in his suit and dress shoes (meanwhile we were all dressed rather casually). But he seemed nice. I haven’t actually met any other prominent designers from the fashion industry so this was a great opportunity for me to hear about how Jimmy Choo became so successful.
His main point was that skill is essential for survival, and to be consistently good, well-connected, think positively and keep an open-minded approach. What he noted in particular was how many designers nowadays can come up with great sketches and ideas, but cannot actually execute them. The factories won’t necessarily help either; the design may be too intricate, or they may not make it the way you intended. For (Professor) Choo, his skill – and a penchant for quality and perfect fit – was what got him through his first few years, landing him an 8-page spread in Vogue, and his reputation. Being such a perfectionist helped him gain a loyal client following.
He stressed the importance of being humble, never thinking that you are the best in the game because there will always be somebody better than you, and always adapting.
Trusting the “good feeling” that you have about whatever you do is important; without faith in yourself, nobody will have faith in you.
Ultimately, perspective can be your enemy or your friend. Mr. Choo said that even though he is more experienced than us, he may not have the same resources, Internet and Inspiration. Looking at your situation positively is the most important thing; ‘I am good at this and this…but what I need is experience and to learn from others’ is a good way to look at it.
We weren’t allowed to record any part of the talk, but I did manage to get a photo with him. We had a fun 15 minute show drawing session, and he picked my shoe out of the other students’ as the first one! (I also got his autograph woohoo)
Originally, I felt a bit out of place in my fancy vintage shirt from my mom (my ‘choker’ is actually a spare piece of bias tape from my GCSE textiles project), but I realised after his talk that what I consistently lack is self-confidence and assertiveness, so I’m going to do my best to try and remedy that.