The British have always been rather good at making things, especially things with a serious purpose, that need to last and offer an opportunity to demonstrate real pride of workmanship. And what meets all those criteria better than almost anything? The answer is a hand-made shoe, an object which is as much a symbol of Britishness as the bowler hat, the Morgan sports car and real ale.
[Jodhpur II Dark Brown Museum Calf]
It might not come as a surprise, then, to learn tha the English town of Northampton was once the shoe-making capital of Europe, with 2,000 individual bootmakers working there towards the end of the 19th century. The town’s central position and proximity to the 11 rivers running through the county made Northampton an obvious place for cobblers to set up business.
Jermyn Street: John Lobb AW14 Collection & New Artistic Director
The subsequent availability of leather and Northampton’s strategic importance led to it becoming a centre of military boot-making, with demand soaring due to the Napoleonic Wars of the late 18th and early 19th centuries.
[Warwick Derby Claret Misty Calf]
More recently, however, a combination of machine-made shoes and cheap imports had an impact on Northampton’s importance as a cobbling centre, and now only a few significant firms remain – perhaps the greatest of them all being John Lobb. View their AW14 collection above and below- it’s definitely worth visiting their Jermyn Street store to see the collection for yourself.
The product remains very much hand-made in the traditional way, using the famous Goodyear welt that means the shoes can always be re-soled. “It is said that a true luxury product is one that you will want to keep forever, take good care of and have repaired. We believe a pair of John Lobb shoes fulfills that”.
[Wareham Redwood Kendal Calf]
Recently the luxury British bootmaker announced the appointment of a new Artistic Director. Paula Gerbase, the London based ready-to-wear designer, started as Artistic Director for John Lobb from July 1st and will report to the CEO, Renaud Paul-Dauphin. Gerbase’s first collection for John Lobb will be Autumn | Winter 2015, which will be presented in London Collections Mens in January 2015.
John Lobb (88 Jermyn St, London SW1Y 6JD)