The Royal Shoe

24. September 2012, from Redaktion
John Lobb Jermyn Street boutique.
William II boot in chesnut misty calf finish.
Arima burnt orange dune calf.
Camberley new gold museum calf.

Ever wanted to spend a day in Prince William’s shoes? How about a bit longer? A pair of handmade shoes from John Lobb may not make your blood any bluer, but they’ll certainly make your feet feel a little bit more royally privileged.



While it’s a given that women love their shoes, the truth is that men do too. What Manolos is for the women’s footwear world, John Lobbs is for the gentleman – with one important difference: absolutely each and every pair of hand-sewn Lobbs shoes wear as comfortably as a pair of gloves, and last the lifetime of their owner. Significantly less ostentatious than their female counterparts, these are neither glamorous nor groundbreaking, holding instead true to the time-honored tradition of fine British understatement.


Beginning with the tanning of the leather all the way to the finished shoes, a classic pair of Lobb Derbies take more than 190 steps to complete. This means that the maximum production quota for the expert staff at the Northampton workshop rarely makes it above 100 pairs per day. While that may sound like a respectable number for a small specialty manufacturer, the twenty John Lobb boutiques and over one hundred dealer partners worldwide mean that supply is always in demand – especially considering that there are more than 32 different models available, all of which come in ten different lengths and various widths.


Ambitious beginnings


As often happens, firm founder John Lobb’s choice of profession arose out of an emergency. The son of a hardworking farmer, a repeatedly broken leg made him unfit for work in the fields, leading him to learn the cobbler’s trade in London. An adventurer, the young Lobb strove for more, and left for Australia to mine for gold, where he stumbled upon a brilliant idea: he made shoes for miners with raised heels that featured secret compartments for the safe storage of precious nuggets. The ambitious Englander then took it upon himself to send a pair of his new riding boots un-requested to the British royal family – a gesture that was unheard of at the time. His cheekiness was rewarded though, and King Edward VII appointed John Lobb the position of official court cobbler. This privilege won him the title of ‘Shoemaker for The King, and The King of Shoemakers’.



Who's who

In the mid 1970s, the company John Lobbs had founded sold its Paris shop and parts of the production center along with rights to the name to Hermès, a move that remains a bit confusing even today. While the shoemaker’s shop in London’s St. James Street (and its Royal Warrant) remains family owned and operated, Hermès also produces shoes with exactly the same name for the world market. In addition to ready-to-wear shoes and an upon request collection (where the customer can choose color, leather type, and model), Hermès also takes orders for bespoke pieces in their shops and several other department shops such as Harrods, which are then crafted in the British workshop.


Prices start at 2400 pounds for a basic pair with practically no upper limit for the price of a special bespoke shoe. In comparison, shoes from the ready-to-wear collection range from 900-1200 euro, can be adapted to the foot of the customer upon purchase and fit at least as perfectly as their bespoke counterparts. Considering the exceptional long life of such shoes, their purchase should be seen as more of an investment than an indulgence.

Barbara Berger Jewellery
Maison Gripoix, around 2000. Gold, extravagant feather jewellery.
Barbara Berger Jewellery

Extravagant exhibition

The fashion jewellery collection of Barbara Berger is famous and spectacular. An exhibition in New York showcases the most beautiful pieces more

Harrods, Disney princess, Dress, Gown, Cavalli, Escada, Missoni, Valentino
From Left to right: The Belle gown from Valentino, the Sleeping Beauty gown from Elie Saab, a golden Cinderalla gown from Versace and an elegant Tiana gown (The Princess and the Frog) from Ralph & Russo.
Harrods, Disney princess, Dress, Gown, Cavalli, Escada, Missoni, Valentino

Would you like to own a Cinderella gown?

Nine Haute Couture Disney princess gowns will be auctioned off by Christies in December. Amongst the designers are Cavalli, Versace, Oscar de la Renta more

Fashion, lotus flower, Loro Piana, Burma
The lotus jackets from Loro Piana are made from lotus fiber harvested on Lake Inle in Burma.
Fashion, lotus flower, Loro Piana, Burma

Cloth of the Gods: Lotus silk

Italian cashmere company Loro Piana understands the imperative of tracking down the right materials to produce the most exclusive garments. In more

Fashion, vintage fashion, Hermès, Givenchy, Dior, Christie's, Chanel, 1920s gown
Elsa Schiaparelli – This little black jacket from 1939 fetched an impressive 90.302 Euro at the "Vintage Couture" Auction at Christies
Fashion, vintage fashion, Hermès, Givenchy, Dior, Christie's, Chanel, 1920s gown

Vintage Fancy

Last week’s Vintage Couture auction at Christie’s goes to show just how valuable so-called second hand fashion can actually be. Haute couture pieces more

Carolus-Duran, self Portrait, with Stefano Ricci reinterpretation. Smiles, please!

Canvas to the Catwalk

Debate about whether fashion is art or advertising is as old as the hills. The current collection from Florence designer Stefano Ricci answers more

Sky of Diamonds

In November of 1932, Coco Chanel presented her first and only diamond collection, inspired by the sparkling stars of the Paris night sky. In more

A wax figure from the original 1932 Chanel Bijoux de Diamants collection.

Diamond Anniversary

In November of 1932, Coco Chanel presented her first and only diamond collection, inspired by the sparkling stars of the Paris night sky. In more

The Hövding helmet: shown here stored away, and inflated. In an accident, it deploys in 0.1 seconds.

The Invisible Helmet

A new cycling accessory might be able to finally end one of the last style-barriers of the average rider: the helmet. Using cutting edge airbag more

Our Friends on Google+

World's Luxury Guide Friends

Reiseportal My-Entdecker