The pinnacle in bespoke shoemaker even it is not so relevant as it was, not the only servant to Royal family or other powerful figures in the world, not the best or most beautiful shoes producer, John Lobb St. James occupies the highest position in this community with very little complain.
When many people entered this market becuase of knowing John Lobb is very priced, and belongs to Hermes group, John Lobb is regarded as the best and most prestigious brand in the world, then they found some more expensive brands such as Berluti or Silvano Lattanzi, then they found there is a world called bespoke and comparing to this world, John Lobb’s price is modest. Finally they asked the same question as everyone is interested in anything, which one is the best? The answer is again John Lobb, but this time, the real Lobb, John Lobb St. James. It is just like a circle.
As its starting price is about 5000 GBP, not everyone can afford its service and owning a pair of John Lobb St. James is almost like a statement or trophy. For me, I can only get them second hand and try to grab treasure (or junk) on Ebay.
This pair was not in good condition, but the pattern design gives inspiration worth the money I paid.
For short, it is a loafer, but to fully describe its features, it is not easy.
Firstly, it is a strap loafer. What the difference between a strap loafer and a penny loafer? The answer is where the strap ends. And strictly speaking, strap loafer’s strap should be solid without hole. But you know the innovation or design in classic dress shoes, mixing everything, so even the difference is not wrong, you will find some shoes cross ride such as the quite popular Full Strap Loafer from Alden.
Secondly, the apron is brogued. This is very important and gives me all the inspiration. Nowadays, brogue apron on penny is merely seen if not at all. But for good old days, this combination of country details of exquisite indoor shoes is popular and admired.
I found the same model from another famed bespoke shoemaker Wildsmith except the back seam is dog tail, all the other details are identical.
More than that, this brogue apron is long and extents to the long tongue edge.
It does not end here as it is not a really strap loafer as it does not end at the apron like a penny loafer, nor at the waist like a strap loafer, the strap is just part of the upper forming the back of the shoes. This design definitely adds difficulty to pattern cutting.
Very blunt square round toe, this toe shape is not easy to appreciate. And certainly elder gentlemen love them.
That is the sad part of this pair as the leather is in dire condition, cracks everywhere, even it can hold up for at least years and is still shining from distance, I just don’t feel too confident when put them on. The good thing is they are super soft.
The welt also makes me confused. Theoretically, the stitches should match the fudges and be covered by wax, but the stitches are not so aligned with the fudges, also the thread can be easily seen.
For the fact that they can be seen can be explained by the wax fell off after long time use, but the mismatch makes me think maybe the shoes have been resoled. However, the stitch density does not support this idea as it is still too fine for a Goodyear machine. Maybe the resole is fully by hand?
The welt started to detach from the out sole and it is more obvious at the waist, and the glue to help cover the stitches on the out sole lose its functionality as well.
The waist is slightly bevelled and the transition from forefoot to waist is not refined, plus there is no LOBB logo on the leather sole, it can be inferred this pair had been resoled. But maybe not too many times, I guess once.
I found John Lobb St. James love this patch backseam which I dislike the most. It may provide best strength to hold up the heel edge, aesthetically it is too functional, yes, the same word can be good and bad.
I read that if there are three royal warrant, it means the shoes are older as it lose one of the warrant in 90s (I don’t remember the date as well as who). I believe this logo costs much more than the whole pair of shoes including the materials used and labor input.
This detail is so important if I want to replicate this model successfully. This elastic band is so important to give comfort as well as fit to the wearer, and also release some tention of the strap leather.
Big square round toe allows feet to move forward to an extend other toe shape does not. And the circumference at widest location of foot fits me quite good, not presses but touches.
The heel edge is very soft after so many wears and it hold my ankle quite comfortably.
The long tongue covers the whole instep and it does not say a loafer by the first sight as the opening looks as small as lace up shoes.
For all bespoke shoes I have ever worn, the grip of foot heel is most felt and it is totally different from Ready To Wear.
I think of replicating this model with another maker and push them to more audience.