In the new John Lobb boutique at the Mall of the Emirates in Dubai, the Lawrence is in the spotlight.
Made in the company’s bespoke workshop in Paris, the six-eyelet brogue shoe was created specifically for the launch of the new Dubai boutique, with just 10 pairs available. It consists of two pieces of ultra-soft Jujube calf leather in a rich burgundy hue, with a hand-stitched upper and sole. Carefully crafted from the highest quality leather, it’s a fitting showcase of John Lobb’s centuries-old shoemaking expertise.
“The Lawrence is truly a shoe that instills the heritage and craftsmanship of the company,” says Philippe Gonzalez, John Lobb’s managing director. “It is entirely handmade by our bootmakers in our Parisian workshop. It includes various elements from our bespoke offering – for example, the heel follows bespoke proportions for better posture and comfort when walking, and there is a curved finish to the sole to improve comfort.
“It’s a shoe that you have to look at closely because the hidden details that are part of our DNA are all there. We see the finesse of each point.
The company’s eponymous founder, a young British apprentice bootmaker, traveled on foot from the Cornish coast to London in 1851 to strike it rich. He also traveled to Australia during the Gold Rush, creating hollow-heeled boots that miners could use to store contraband gold nuggets. He returned to London in 1863 and was soon appointed shoemaker to the Prince of Wales.
The brand’s first bespoke shop opened on London’s Regent Street in 1866, followed by a presence in Paris in 1899. More than 150 years later, the brand uses many of the same techniques to make its shoes – a 190-step process perfected by craftsmen at the atelier in Paris and the ready-to-wear atelier in Northampton in the UK.
This dual Anglo-French heritage creates an interesting juxtaposition. “We’re a very serious company in that we pay attention to detail and focus on every element,” Gonzalez says.
“And at the same time, John Lobb is a company that, in essence, being English, has that sense of humour. By being warm and inclusive of people, we want to show that yes, there is the seriousness of the product and the seriousness of the craftsmen behind the product, but we don’t take ourselves too seriously either.
In 1976, the company was bought by Hermès and in 1982, it launched its first ready-to-wear collection. But while heritage is the cornerstone of the brand, it’s also a company steeped in innovation, from those hollow-heeled boots. While John Lobb will always be associated with handcrafted formal footwear, from smart boots to classic Oxfords, Derbys and loafers, he has also adapted to the casualness of trends in the fashion industry.
“It’s obvious that a man today is dressed differently,” Gonzalez says. “And our goal is really to accompany our customer during his 24-hour journey. Because in your 24 hours you might have meetings, which require more formality in your look.
“But then maybe you go to a party, to the theater, to meet friends or have dinner, and you need a different type of look and shoes to wear. And on the weekends, you go to the mountains or the beach, and then you need another product.
“We are attentive to how we accompany our customers on this journey, providing them with elegance and comfort. It’s true that we are not a sneaker company. But we have casual shoes and sneakers because our customers are looking for that. We infuse our vision, our quality and our heritage into these products.
The breadth of John Lobb’s product offering, including sandals developed specifically for the region, is now on display in the brand’s new intimate boutique at the Mall of the Emirates. The space includes a new store concept that was developed by Parisian architecture studio Cigue and introduced in Paris and Beverly Hills last year. A central and anchored structure in walnut wood and matt metal recalls the reception of a familiar hotel and it is there that a “concierge” will explain to the customer the different options offered by the brand.
In addition to ready-to-wear, the company’s By Request service allows customers to personalize their shoes by choosing from more than 100 original designs and then personalizing every element, from the type and color of leather to the sole. and loops. For an even higher experience, the brand offers the Bespoke service, where artisans work directly with customers to create shoes that are precisely molded to their individual feet.
For Gonzalez, this approach is at the heart of sustainable design practices. “It’s made for you, so we reduce mass production, which responds to a concern for sustainability,” he says.
“What differentiates John Lobb is that the quality of the leather we use is such that the patina will evolve. We use natural leather that will age well and you will develop that relationship with your shoes. It’s like a handbag that you love. You spend so much time with her and she follows you on your journey.
Updated: March 23, 2022, 06:32