Parisian Gentleman

The PG Guide of Quality Seals

The “Spirit of Capitals” collections : where does it feel wrong ?

by Hugo Jacomet


Today, we have decided to show you the entire John Lobb’s “Spirit of Capitals” collection.

After studying it closely, a very important element suddenly emerged which somehow put a scratch on the sheen of the beautiful story of this project.

What is being touted as a beautiful artsty-crafty endeavour, a cordwaining project worthy of a prestigious label is in fact nothing but masterful marketing, smart and well executed but, in the end, rather grotesque. Let me explain.

Here is how this great story is “sold” (I am weighing my words) by John Lobb on the label’s official website:

“Imagine the pair of John Lobbs that would reflect the spirit of your city and we will craft it. A conversation on London and New York triggered the idea. New York is known even by those who haven’t visited it; London is cosmopolitan and ever-changing. What if we designed models that paid tribute to the world’s capitals, to these faraway cities that remain so familiar, to capture their multi-faceted spirit in shoes for the gentlemen who will visit them? This is how the challenge was set.”

So far, so good. Paying tribute to the world’s great capitals with a shoe that would “capture” their urban essence is, objectively, a commendable project. Both capitals quoted in the script are evidently undisputable and are the stuff of many dreams and titillate the imagination.

Where the story gets (quite) sour is when one considers the “World Capitals” represented in the collection. Let us insert some of them in the text to truly explain our unease with the concept:

“Imagine a pair of John Lobbs that would reflect the spirit of your city and we will craft it. A conversation on Dubai, Taipei, Hong Kong and Seoul triggered the idea…”

Of course, this suffices to tarnish the story when flashy Dubai and wealthy Hong Kong somehow taint such a well told story…

Among the 11 emblem capitals selected by JL, five are new eldorados for big bootmakers (including no less than 4 Asian labels).

To speak the truth, one should admit that, while it remains understood that Dubai and Taipei are important business cities, it is legitimate to wonder how such rhetoric allowed Rome, Madrid, Berlin and Vienna to be “forgotten”.

Of course, we are challenging neither the quality nor the beauty of the shoes, but rather simply slightly disappointed that such as label as JL Paris would persist in approaching shoe aficionados as base customers by attempting to sell us a marketing campaign that, albeit sophisticated, as a bootmaker tale to “pay tribute to the great capitals of the world”. The honorable label could at least have specified that its tribute was directed at “capitals in which JL wishes to develop”.

Hence our slight disappointment with the process, a bit grotesque and oversold, even though we recognize that the collection is truly well-done.

PG loves John Lobb too much not to express that slight feeling of deception.



Hong Kong


New York







Cheers, HUGO



This post is also available in: French


Hans — 14 June 2011 11:28

It all started to go wrong when John Lobb sold the RTW name rights to Hermes.

HGB — 02 December 2011 21:13

I agree, a curious choice of capitals……