Fashion

Everything You Need to Know About John Lobb, the Official Bootmaker of the Prince of Wales

The brand's iconic men's shoes are now in Manila.
IMAGE COURTESY JOHN LOBB
Comments

Automobiles weren’t globalized until the 20th century, so when aspiring craftsmen and artisans uprooted themselves from their provincial settings in search of a new place–preferably a capital city–to trade their wares, they had to travel by foot.

Founder John Lobb's early grit

In 1851, a 22-year-old John Lobb traded the rural setting of Cornwall, England for London. He journeyed 200 miles from his small hilltop village, Tywardreath, to the city in a pair of his own handmade boots. After completing an apprenticeship in boot-making, Lobb set off again the following year. That time, he went even farther.

In 1852, the young shoemaker found himself in an entirely new country, creating durable boots for Australian miners. Exactly a decade later, Lobb was awarded a gold medal at the Great International Exhibition in London.

The brand was awarded a royal warrant by Prince Edward.

The bootmaker took a chance and sent Edward, then Prince of Wales and heir to the British throne, a pair of fine riding shoes. The monarch took a liking to the shoes and later appointed Lobb the official bootmaker of the Prince of Wales.

ADVERTISEMENT - CONTINUE READING BELOW

With this approval, Lobb opened his first store in London at 296 Regent Street, three years after being awarded a warrant.

Among the brand’s other famous clientele were mogul Aristotle Onassis, crooner Frank Sinatra, and writers George Bernard Shaw and Roald Dahl.

John Lobb’s footwear later became synonymous with bespoke service and shoe styles that would endure over half a century.

Shoemaking became a family business and John’s son, William, soon began churning out his own iconic creations. It was William who conceptualized and crafted the double-buckle monk strap design—later named after him—that the brand became most known for. Before that, he had also led the brand into international expansion with the opening of the first store in Paris in 1899.


ADVERTISEMENT - CONTINUE READING BELOW


William II double monk-strap

Later, Lobb’s bespoke services paved the way for new designs, such as the Lopez, which was named after a client. Currently, these leather penny loafers take several weeks to make, with a total of 190 steps. This meticulous process, guarantees a lifetime of use.

ADVERTISEMENT - CONTINUE READING BELOW



ADVERTISEMENT - CONTINUE READING BELOW
Lopez leather loafers

The brand offers bespoke services to this day. The finished product is housed in a box bearing the founder’s signature mark, which signifies generations of inherited technique and master craftsmanship.

It was later acquired by the Hermès Group.

In 1976, retail giant Hermès purchased the John Lobb brand, including everything except the London store on St. James Street, which continues to be helmed by the fifth generation of Lobbses. In the hands of Hermès, the brand steadily expanded for worldwide consumption. It began by breaking out of the bespoke mold with the launch of a men’s ready-to-wear collection.

The first Paris branch that offered the remodeled John Lobb RTW structure opened at 51 rue Francois in 1990.

Keeping the brand’s base strictly in the U.K., the retailer opened the JL & Co. factory in Northampton, England, which applies the same technique and principles in creating bespoke shoes the way it does its RTW line.

ADVERTISEMENT - CONTINUE READING BELOW

In the subsequent years to follow, John Lobb began launching internationally—starting with New York at the turn of the century, and then Tokyo, Moscow, and various parts of East Asia after.

The pop-up store in Manila is now open.

In need of creative guidance, the Hermès-owned John Lobb company appointed Paula Gerbase as the brand’s first-ever artistic director. “I am honored to be entrusted with the artistic vision of the brand and to be part of its future and preserving its ethos of purity and innovation,” Gerbase says of her appointment. She used to work on Savile Row, and continues to run her own acclaimed clothing label 1205.


ADVERTISEMENT - CONTINUE READING BELOW
Paula Gerbase

She brings a more contemporary approach to the brand, with launches such as the Levah sneakers and the Keyne tassel loafer.


Levah sneakers

Today, men need not travel far for a pair of Lobbs. For a limited period, John Lobb has set up shop next to the Hermès boutique in Greenbelt 3. The store carries the brand's signature retail concept, conceived by Gerbase. Scores of classic loafers, oxfords, and derbies in seasonal colors and leathers are displayed on wooden panels and well-lit shelves.

ADVERTISEMENT - CONTINUE READING BELOW

Comments
Recommended Videos
About The Author
Hannah Lazatin
Features Editor
Hannah is originally from Pampanga and from a big, close-knit family who likes to find a reason to get together at the dinner table. Experiences inspire her. “Once, at a restaurant, I received an interpretation of my second name ‘Celina,’ and it meant 'someone who tries everything once' and that is me through and through,” she says. As for the job, she wants her “readers to be inspired by the stories of the people we feature and to move them to reach for greater things.”
View Other Articles From Hannah
Comments
Latest Stories
 
Share
For all its loaded dialogues and stunning imagery, The Two Popes deserves the undivided attention of its audience.
 
Share
This annual spectacle has been a Christmas tradition for many Filipino families since its inauguration in 2009.
 
Share
After a decade in fashion, he looks back with his first book on everything from dressing Michelle Obama to impressing Gloria Steinem.
 
Share
"One would do things like open all the windows, only for the other to go around shutting them," Lady Glenconner, Margaret's former lady-in-waiting, wrote.
 
Share
Josh Boutwood has returned with his signature restaurant, Test Kitchen.
 
Share
“A natural number one whose tragedy it is to have been born a number two.”
 
Share
The infamous Upper East Side murder has yet to fade from public memory.
 
Share
Six standout new releases of the month-and one old favorite to revisit.
 
Share
Who stands where during such events is determined by what is known as the order of precedence.
 
Share
We get a closer glimpse at what the industrialist was like as a father.
Load More Articles
CONNECT WITH US