Sunday, February 27, 2011

The Making of: A John Lobb Shoe


John Lobb has been making bespoke shoes and boots since 1866, and ready-to-wear shoes since 1984. In 1994 the John Lobb workshop opened in Northampton, a town in Britain with a long-established shoemaking industry, in order to produce the ready-to-wear styles. 

Since 1866, men including Sir Winston Churchill and Mr Alfred Hitchcock have turned to John Lobb for the finest-quality shoes and boots. The enduringly elegant double strap 'William' model, developed in 1945 and named after Mr William Lobb, is still in production today, a testament to its timeless appeal. Rumor has it that Lobb began producing monk-strap shoes in the 19th century to accommodate the wide feet of Prince Edward, who had granted Lobb a Royal Warrant to supply him with shoes.

The full-grain calf leather is put through an oak-bark tanning process for six months until it is perfectly supple and just the right shade of rich chocolate brown. The leather is stretched on the lasts for five days to ensure a smooth shape before being stitched.

In common with all fine English shoes, the Goodyear welting method of connecting the top of the shoe to the inseam and leather sole has been used. This results in a durable shoe that molds to the shape of the wearer's foot. It also allows leather soles to be replaced easily.

There are 190 steps involved in the production of each pair of John Lobb shoes. All manufacturing is carried out in Northampton, England, with much of it done by hand. The entire process takes approximately three months from start to finish.

Mr John Lobb learned his craft making boots for miners in Australia during the gold rush. When Lobb returned to London in 1863 he made a pair of riding boots for the Prince of Wales. The future King was so pleased he granted the shoemaker a Royal Warrant.

[Source] MR PORTER

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