John Lobb: Saddled with Quality

John Lobb are pushing the boundaries of innovation with accomplished casual shoes. Part of the old guard and given a slight contemporary edge, the Lopez remains one of the most desirable loafer models on the planet.

A bootmaker since 1849, the spirit of adventure and movement has and continues to be a fundamental part of the John Lobb DNA. Born in 1829, the eponymous John Lobb was a lame Cornish farm hand who decided to walk from his hilltop village to London, with his feet only garrisoned from the rugged hinterlands by a pair of boots he’d made himself. Discontent in London, he took the first available passage to Sydney, where he gained acclaim for making hollow-heeled boots for the beneficiaries of the gold rush. By the time he’d returned to Britain after a successful decade in Australia, he’d earnt himself a Royal Warrant as Bootmaker to Edward, Prince of Wales.

Not long after the turn of the century, its first association with Paris arose when John Lobb’s son William Hunter Lobb opened up a branch at 1 Rue du Vingt-Neuf-Juillet. Another one followed in 1924 on the Rue du Faubourg-St-Honoré which is credited with attracting clients from a wider international network. Its neighbour was a small family-run saddle-maker by the name of Hermès. Located about 30 minutes north of Paris was France’s main horse racing hub, Chantilly, whose Château de Chantilly remains one of the most decadent backdrops in horseracing. The equine elite were only a short drive away, and whilst they spent a fortune on riding equipment, they also popped next door to commission their boots. Incidentally, racehorse owner the Aga Khan, whose family have had a long association with John Lobb has made vast donations to the horse racing museum in Chantilly. His father, the charismatic Prince Aly Khan was often pictured at the track with a string of beautiful women. Over the years it became obvious that the two brands shared an unwavering commitment to quality and craft, and fast-forward to 1976, the Hermès Group acquired John Lobb. For those not privy to the business architecture of John Lobb, it is important point out that the London bespoke workshop, John Lobb Ltd, remains in the family, and continues to operate as a bespoke shoemaker from its fabled premises at 9 St James’s Street. The Paris bespoke atelier, the By Request service and ready-to-wear collection, as well as all of the other John Lobb boutiques, are all part of the Hermès-owned company.

Video by Marcus Ebanks

Contributor

Freddie Anderson

Published

June 2021

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