Jimmy Choo is firmly disrupting the creative education system

LONDON – Mr. Jimmy Choo is a busy man, but when it comes to education, he has all the time in the world.

The Malaysian shoe designer last year opened its JCA London Fashion Academy in Hanover Square, opposite a leafy park, a short walk from the offices of Condé Nast and London’s luxury shopping destination, Bond Street.

“I love the fashion shops here. The student can go and see a lot of things here,” Choo said, adding that student safety comes first, hence why he chose a venue reputable enough to reassure worried parents when sending their children to study.

It’s about creating a zen environment that gives ‘a lot of energy’ – for Choo it’s Hyde Park, close to his home and where he can often be found practicing his meditation, breathing and tai -chi.

When the academy was launched, it hosted 30 undergraduates and five masters students from the UK. For the second year, the academy will also open applications to international students, while still intending to keep numbers below capacity by introducing short courses in September and a summer school. for 13-17 year olds in three weeks.

Choo’s vision for the academy isn’t your typical college campus — it’s not stuffy, largely empty, or dimly lit. Instead, it’s a Georgian townhouse decorated with pink interiors and white canvas walls in the studios so students can think freely.

His work with the British Fashion Council and the University of the Arts London inspired him to open an educational institution that protects craftsmanship and provides knowledge. Choo remembers what her father told her, “It’s not the benefit you get for yourself, but how you learn the knowledge and give back in the future.”

What sets the academy apart from other art schools and academies is that it targets students from all walks of life. A sum of £500,000 has been set aside so far for the scholarship fund to support students from disadvantaged backgrounds or those with non-traditional educational backgrounds.

The JCA has also set up a two-story boutique across from the Maine Mayfair restaurant which will launch in September to coincide with the first MA presentations.

Each student will be assigned a mannequin to dress their creations accompanied by a stand with an iPad to present their pieces available for purchase in store.

It’s a tactical position. “When you’re sitting there eating your 300-pound lobster, you’ll want to go into the store afterwards,” said Stephen Smith, the academy’s chief executive.

“Even if the pieces aren’t perfect, it’s a new designer and for sure they’re going to spend £3,000 on it. Our thinking is: how do we give a platform to new designers? you pivot? You have to have people who have a certain amount of wealth to be able to do that.

Janice G. Ball