John Lobb Bootmaker

Coordinates: 51°30′21″N 0°8′18.3″W / 51.50583°N 0.138417°W / 51.50583; -0.138417
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John Lobb Limited
Company typePrivate limited company[1]
Founded1849 (as bootmaker)[2]
1866 (first shop opened)
FounderJohn Lobb
Headquarters9 St James's Street
London, United Kingdom
ProductsBespoke shoes, boots and accessories

John Lobb Bootmaker is a company that manufactures and retails a luxury brand of shoes and boots, mainly for men but also for women. Leather goods such as wallets and belts are also available. Founded by John Lobb (1829–95),[3] John Lobb Bootmaker has been in business since 1849 in London and circa 1900 in Paris.[4][5] John Lobb's son William took over the business and after he died in 1916 the business was led by Betsy Lobb.[3]

The original London bespoke workshop at 9 St James's Street remains family-owned and continues to operate independently (as John Lobb Limited). In 1976, the John Lobb Paris shop was acquired by the Hermès Group, which has developed the John Lobb ready-to-wear shoe brand around the world. The two companies continue to maintain their bespoke shoe-making tradition, with the original Lobb family workshop in London and the Hermès owned workshop in Paris.[6][7]


John Lobb opened his first store in Sydney, Australia in 1854.[8] Lobb's initial success was in the importation of men and women's shoes and boots, in particular, women's footwear. Together with his lead bootmaker William Cassull, John Lobb cemented his reputation as one of the Colony's top bootmakers.[9] In 1862, John Lobb, in collaboration with local tanner Alderson & Sons, and with Cassull as lead bootmaker, produced a pair of polished leather riding boots that took out the Prize Medal at the 1862 International Exhibition. [10][11][12]

In 1866 John Lobb opened a shop in London and produced footwear for European royalty.[6][13] John died in 1895 but by then his son William had taken over the business. Unusually they did not mechanise like their competitors but stuck to craft techniques. Following the success of the London base, William opened a shop in Paris in 1901 and another (unprofitable) shop in Regent Street, London in 1904.[3]

In 1901 William Lobb married Betsy Smerdon and after the marriage they went on a grand tour. William died in 1916 and it was Betsy who saved the business.[3][14]

In 1976, Hermès was allowed to use the "John Lobb" name. Only about 100 pairs of ready-to-wear shoes are finished per day. The original, family-owned John Lobb firm still produces handmade shoes one pair at a time. Until the 1980s, John Lobb operated only custom-made activity in London and in Paris. From 1982 onwards, the ready-to-wear activity has complemented the made to measure, and distribution has expanded.

The London company was the subject of a 1945 British Pathé film, Shoes for the Famous,[15] and an episode of the June 2016 BBC Four documentary series, Handmade: By Royal Appointment.[16]

Present operations[edit]

The London bespoke workshop, John Lobb Limited, remains at 9 St James's Street and is still independently operating as a family business.

In 1976, John Lobb Paris became part of the Hermès Group. The ready-to-wear collection debuted in 1982, and the first store showcasing the line opened in 1990 in Paris. In June 2014, the Hermès Group announced the appointment of Paula Gerbase as John Lobb's first ever Artistic Director.[17]



  1. ^ "Company information". Companies House. Retrieved 28 December 2020.
  2. ^ "John Lobb Ltd". Royal Warrant Holders Association. Retrieved 30 December 2020.
  3. ^ a b c d McConnell, Anita (23 September 2004). "Lobb, John". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/61386. (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
  4. ^ By Royal Appointment. ITV3. 2012. Event occurs at 8:00pm. Archived from the original on 29 June 2012. Retrieved 24 June 2012.
  5. ^, National archives
  6. ^ a b Dobbs, Brian (1972). The Last Shall Be First: The Colourful Story of John Lobb The St. James's Bootmakers. Elm Tree Books. ISBN 0241022738.
  7. ^ Robin Mellery-Pratt, John Lobb, Scaling a Craft-Based , 07/05/2014 in Business of fashion
  8. ^ "Advertising". Empire. 3 June 1854. Retrieved 12 April 2023.
  9. ^ "SCHOOL OF ARTS' EXHIBITION". Sydney Morning Herald. 7 March 1861. Retrieved 13 April 2023.
  10. ^ "Advertising". Sydney Morning Herald. 6 July 1863. Retrieved 13 April 2023.
  11. ^ "AUSTRALIAN LEATHER MANUFACTURES". Mercury. 16 August 1862. Retrieved 13 April 2023.
  12. ^ "Advertising". Sydney Morning Herald. 8 January 1866. Retrieved 13 April 2023.
  13. ^ Nicholas Storey (2008). History of Men's Fashion: What the Well-dressed Man is Wearing. Casemate Publishers. p. 66. ISBN 978-1-84468-037-5.
  14. ^ John Lobb Ltd. <corpname>John Lobb Ltd, 1866-, Westminster, bootmakers</corpname>. 1899–1986.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: others (link)
  15. ^ "Shoes for the Famous". British Pathé. Retrieved 15 September 2016.
  16. ^ "John Lobb Shoes". Handmade: By Royal Appointment. Episode 2. 13 June 2016. BBC Four. Retrieved 13 June 2016.
  17. ^ John Lobb Spruces Up Its Classic Footwear The New York Times, Matthew Schneier, 13 November 2014

External links[edit]

51°30′21″N 0°8′18.3″W / 51.50583°N 0.138417°W / 51.50583; -0.138417