I know John Lobb is an institution in the world of fine shoes. But, can you tell me the difference between John Lobb shoes from London versus John Lobb shoes from Paris?
Your question is asked a lot, and now is a great time to clear up any confusion.
John Lobb is a name known by men all over the world and it’s true that many don’t know that John Lobb, London and John Lobb, Paris are two different institutions.
Here’s an easy summary of the differences:
THE EARLY ROOTS OF JOHN LOBB
It all began in London in 1866, when John Lobb founded the company.
Some people don’t realize that a few decades earlier before he established his London store, Lobb literally walked to London from Cornwall, despite being crippled due to an accident. It was then under the tutelage of Tomas, a virtuoso bootmaker in London that Lobb became a skilled bootmaker.
His next adventure took him to Australia where he crafted boots with hollow heels which allowed gold prospectors to hide the gold they found inside the heels of their shoes. Interestingly, the John Lobb heel shape remains unique to this day.
Lobb made a pair of boots for Edward, Prince of Wales in 1863, only shortly after he was awarded a gold medal at the London Universal Exhibition–an award which gave him the credentials he needed to jumpstart his career. Prince Edward loved his boots so much, he continued to hire Lobb for most of his footwear.
Now a supplier to the royals, Lobb had no problem establishing his business in London in 1866.
It would be 36 years later, when Lobb opened a second workshop in Paris, in 1902.
Yet, after seven decades of John Lobb bespoke operating in both London and Paris…things were about to change.
The French luxury brand Hermès bought John Lobb, Paris in 1976. And so, if you now speak of John Lobb, Paris, you are referring to a brand of the Hermès Group.
Still, the bespoke services remain similar in quality until this day, except bespoke shoes made in London are strictly “British” in shape and form–adhering to traditional style, while bespoke shoes made in Paris are found to be more sophisticated and daring and well…more Parisian-esque.
The bespoke operation in London has stuck to its roots and is operating in a lovely discreet bespoke workshop, using select leather and proven craftsmen. The London store is responsible for producing only bespoke .
The John Lobb Paris bespoke operation is quite opulent to observe, hiring among the best craftsmen in the world and certainly using the best leather available. However, John Lobb Paris also sells ready-to-wear under the John Lobb name all around the world (however, JLP does not sell their bespoke offering in the UK).
JOHN LOBB, LONDON
- Makes only bespoke.
- Has strictly traditional “British” style, shape and form.
- Prohibits the sale of bespoke shoes (throughout the United Kingdom) made by John Lobb, Paris–according to the original agreement of sale to Hermès in 1976. [See comment below].
JOHN LOBB, PARIS
- Makes bespoke, ready-to-wear and made-to-order.
- Has more daring and international lasts and patterns.
- Is part of the Hermès Group since 1976.
When you observe the bottom side of John Lobb bespoke shoes, notice the heels are more square instead of rectangular in shape (in France we call this a “talon bottier”)…a wink to the craftsmanship of a bespoke shoe made by John Lobb.
John Lobb Shoes, St. James Street, London