The Shoe Snob Blog

John Lobb Canvas Oxford – A New Look

savannah_brown_34 john lobb

 

There are some people who are not too happy with the new direction of John Lobb’s design and ethos. Putting myself in the mind of the customer, I can kind of understand. Putting myself in the mind of a business owner, I don’t really get it. What surprises me most is that John Lobb (Paris, RTW) has always been owned by Hermes and although made in England, is in reality a French-designer run company. That being (in my mind) people could never expect them to stay 100% classic (forever). It’s simply not the way the French do things. They roll with the times and do what it takes to keep the business alive and reaching new markets (as any business should do really).

If the quality of the shoes went down and the prices went up (like some other French owned brands), then that is another story, but just because John Lobb is doing canvas shoes and plimsole sneakers (no different than the sneakers that they have been doing for years) doesn’t mean that they have forgotten their sense of classicism. Just means that they are branching out to not fall behind. In the last 5 years, the competition in the classic shoe sector has grown so fiercely with the rise of G&G, Saint Crispins, Bestetti, Bonafe and the popularity of the internet, so much so that if John Lobb did not start doing new things, Hermes would have probably started to see a significant decline in profits.

That being, I don’t mind (in fact I encourage) seeing John Lobb try new things, like these lovely canvas oxfords. This is course providing they never lower their quality and don’t forget about the shoes that made them who they are today …. as always, only time will tell!

john lobb canvas

 

  • Jeremy FIsher

    “Always owned”? the purchase of John Lobb has been relatively recent (80s or 90s, the 70s were when Hermes started making shoes under the JL Paris label, but didn’t own JL outright). Lobb actually exist as two connected firms, John Lobb Ltd is the UK company whilst John Lobb/John Lobb Paris are the Hermes run ones. I am also given to understand that Lobb UK is still family run from Northampton and Jermyn Street. The UK firm makes most of the RTW shoes for the Parisian one but has completely independence as to how the “domestic” brand shoes are designed and made. The former is much more conservative than the latter and you will find that it is the latter which is much more experimental in its designs (even if both are made in the same factory).

    • TheShoeSnob

      You might want to check your facts before arguing with someone who writes a blog on shoes. John Lobb St. James is strictly bespoke and has nothing to do with any of the RTW shoes un the John Lobb label. Hermes started and founded the factory in Northampton after having purchased the shop in Oaris from the

      • Jeremy FIsher

        Thanks for clearing that up, but I think my core point still stands. Lobb has been around for hundreds of years, it has only been owned (or part owned) by Hermes for a few decades. I don’t think its right to label them a “French” brand.

        • TheShoeSnob

          I am not sure how long you have been reading this blog but it seems that your point comes from a position of pride. If you read carefully, you will see that I state John Lobb (Paris, RTW) and whether you like it or not it is a French owned and run company. It has nothing to do with John Lobb St. James. Facts are facts and everyone who knows this blog knows that I know the difference between the two. But i wasnt talking abou the bespoke side so no need for me to mention it or its English roots to the original company from the 1800’s.

          • Jeremy FIsher

            Would you call Rolls Royce German or Jaguar Indian? Lobb (RTW) despite ownership is still an English brand with English heritage, manufactured in Northampton and in a factory which has been making shoes for well over a century (previously owned by EG? I am sure you know more than I do regarding who exactly owned it previously) and by English craftsmen who have been shoemakers for generations.

          • TheShoeSnob

            I dont care about cars so wouldnt call them anything. You are still arguing something that has nothing to do with the original point of the post. Your argument is based on national pride but not fact. They are 2 different companies (completely) and I dont care where the shoes are made or who is working in the factory (which I am sure are also French people). The point of the post, if you read carefully, was about direction of design (not craftsmanship) and how the French are responsible for that (which they are, not the English). The point is that no matter what the name is, where the shoes are made or anything that has to do with the original John Lobb, stands that the RTW company owned by Hermes is very much ran like a French conglomerate and not run like an English firm. We can agree to disagree as I am getting tired of arguing a point to which I dont think you are truly reading.

          • Jeremy FIsher

            I have visited the Lobb factory in Northampton and I can assure you that all the employees I met were British, whose families have been in the industry for generations.

          • TheShoeSnob

            Great. Still doesnt change anything or disprove my point about design which I am sure comes from Lobb in Paris and not the factory.

          • Jeremy FIsher

            Lobb’s creative team are based in London (or so I am told). Paula Gerbase has been appointed their new creative director not so long ago.

          • TheShoeSnob

            The fact that they hired a 32 year old Artistic Director (who is not English….so that’s funny that everyone in the factory is British?) who has NEVER designed shoes to create ‘designer-inspired footwear’ for runway shows at London Men’s Collections (and the like i.e. all of the fashion weeks in Milan, Paris, London etc.) just goes to show that they are more French than English as all other English owned and run classic shoe firms would and do not do that. And the CEO is French (Renaud Paul-Dauphin), hence “French run and influenced company”….and if you think that they don’t overlook her every new idea before it gets developed then clearly you don’t understand how things work when a company is owned by French conglomerates

          • Jeremy FIsher

            Gerbase made her name on Saville row, the epitome of British design in many ways. As regards to the factory, you of all people (as someone who writes extensively and works in the shoe industry) should be aware of the familial nature of labour pool in Northampton. It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that the vast majority of shoemakers in the region have been in the business for generations.

            There are no “French” fashion conglomerates who operate in the fashion you imply, merely conglomerates headquartered in France. Look at Louis Vuitton (LVMH), the Archetype and paragon of all French fashion houses, and a significant shareholder in Hermes itself. They own as many Swiss watchmaking firms as they do fashion makers in France yet the watchmakers (Zenith, TAG Heuer and Hublot) operate independently, in the most Swiss fashion and are themselves exemplary of their industry. Undeniably they make their influence felt, but to say that ownership changes national character is simply not true. Will you next suggest that Church’s shoes are Italian?

          • TheShoeSnob

            I have better things to do than to continue arguing about frivolous subjects such as this, to a wind up artist. This will be my last comment on the matter.

          • modfxcreations

            They have completely different character, I can understand your reasons for not wanting to remove that tree branch from your orifice; JLP produces some stunning examples of aesthetic design, whereas the square waisted, rather heavy style of St James lends to an almost orthopaedic look at times. Sore much from being outdone by the French? Must be so degrading

            Are you perchance the type of person who has a Union Jack or St Georges cross tacked to the side of your house? The British empire started declining in the 40’s and was officially dead when we gave up Hong Kong in 1997. Get over it.

            Or maybe you’re just another internet troll, go annoy people on Reddit, you’ll get much better reactions. Maybe get some practice, at the moment you’re putting in way too much effort constructing flame bait for very little return.

            In reference to your closing line: http://www.theshoesnobblog.com/2012/12/its-officialchurchs-are-fashion-label.html that kind of gave it away, but if you are the former ie non-troll, enjoy the read!

          • Jeremy FIsher

            I am not a nationalist nor one of the UKIP or BNP types, that you seem to insinuate that I am. I simply have pride in British shoes, which are a British institution, much as with the Swiss and watches, recognised globally as being the best in the world. John Lobb is an English institution. Lobb are designed in the UK, made in the UK by one of the most venerable of shoemakers in a century old Northampton factory and by Northamptonshire workers whose roots run generations deep, to take issue with the flippant label of it being “French” is reasonable national pride to be expected of anyone and not, as you suggest, indicative of yobbish nationalism. I equate it more with the indignation felt by Austrians when Beethoven is labelled German.

            I am aware church’s are owned by Prada, which was exactly my point. Church’s are owned by Prada yet remain British. I have read the post you linked and it has errors, which seem intentionally malicious given that it is written by someone so knowledgeable of the shoe industry. I can tell you for a fact that “bookbinder” or high-shine leather had been used by shoemakers for decades. Churchs have used it far more regularly in the past and as had other high end brands, including Crockett Jones. The latter has dropped it entirely whilst the former has cut down dramatically on its use. The switch to almost extensive use of calf by what has become the upper end of the British shoe industry is a pretty modern phenomenon, perhaps as a result of the industry being forced into the “luxury” bracket by cheaper imports. In the 80s, most shoemakers used it as regularly as Barker and Loake now do. I personally have not felt there has been a drop in the quality of Church’s shoes since the change in ownership. The brand has rapidly expanded its factory in Northampton and hired many more workers. Prices have risen but, by and large, they are in line with what other, family owned, shoemakers at that tier charge. What is more, the “Shoesnob” is intentionally using a few, outlier models to represent the entire brand. Church’s offer a far wider range of classic and timeless models. Every shoemaker has their oddball models to cater for the tastes of hipsters and other subcultures. Grenson offer similarly garish brogues for higher prices, Crocketts have made and sold rainbow slippers and even Lobb have made horrendous “fashion” shoes (if you don’t believe me, look up their “jubilee” shoes).

            I had felt that this blog was an interesting and insightful one, and whilst I still feel that is true for the most part, becoming more familiar with it, it seems to me that the writer is actively trying to attack the well established and deserved reputation for superiority of English shoemakers. Why I do not know but it certainly seems to be a theme running through many articles.

          • TheShoeSnob

            the last paragraph is quite entertaining as I endlessly promote Gaziano & Girling (English), Edward Green (English), Crockett & Jones (English) and Foster & Son (English). All English makers. I don’t have to like all of them in this country and I always tell it like it is. If some of them have changed the culture of their brand and claim to make great “Handmade” shoes but don’t and rather make cheaply made shoes that are selling a lie, then I will say it. I don’t care if they have 5000 years of heritage. It can be destroyed in a day. If you don’t like it and want to only focus on the negative (and quite true) things that I say, then don’t read the blog. Plain and simple

          • modfxcreations

            I apologise if I caused any offense, I merely was putting forward the analogy that just because something was historically relevant does not mean that it can be used as a point of argument when referring to the present tense, seeing that this is largely a case of misguided national pride combined with the stubbornness of a mule, it seemed apt at the time. I do not consider you a nationalist, nor racist, people of that demeanor are largely incapable of constructing complete sentences, we may not agree on the subject at hand, but I can’t fault your grammar.

            Church are most definitely not English anymore. Perhaps you would care to explain why the Church family are currently running Cheaney and left their own name behind in 2009? Seems a bit of an odd thing to do, leaving over 100 years worth of heritage, unless, say…..an Italian fashion brand started playing around with things and tarnishing what reputation is left.

            You really want to clear things up about Lobb, go to 9 St. James’ Street in London, there you will find a wood paneled shop with the letters LOBB LOBB in brass above the door. Enter, ask for a man called Jonathan Lobb; he is the director and a lastmaker. I’m not sure if he has anywhere near the level of footwear knowledge as yourself but a conversation I had with him recently indicated that as it stands today John Lobb Paris and John Lobb Ltd are completely and utterly separate. Hermes have rights to put the name on their RTW. St. James is still a bespoke only family business and has absolutely no input whatsoever.

            Times have changed, sorry but it is what it is, there are very few companies that have stood the test of time and managed to stick with their core principles. Heritage brands can be swallowed up by a fashion house and still convince people that their the very same family run, honest business that they always were.

            The few that have survived, are generally given little to no due from the general public. Walk into a high street shoe shop and ask a sales person about Edward Green, Alfred Sargent, Crockett & Jones, Gaziano & Girling, Foster & Son, Cleverly and Tricker’s. I’ll be very surprised if you get anything more than a blank look and possibly a query as to whether you mean “Jones the Bootmaker”. I guarantee they’ll know Church’s though. Do you understand my angle? How much credit are the makers which are doing things without having to sell out to a multi-million fashion house getting? NONE WHATSOEVER.

            Those who do actually know a couple of things about quality footwear are too busy attacking online bloggers with pointless rebuttals to actually educate people. Learn to swallow your pride, why not support real British heritage instead of wasting your time playing right into the pockets of European fashion houses by defending your massive throbbing ego?

  • MarkinLA

    Jeremy, from my perspective you come across as a “puffed” up egoist who has to prove his point when it is obvious from those of us who have read this dialogue that the point Justin was making in his article is NOT the one that you drilled into the ground trying to get him to throw up his hands and say, you’re right. I agree, you speak from pride not fact. I don’t know many people who know the shoe industry from the inside out as well as Justin does. Learn to back-down and admit you are not always right. You might also improve your stress level.