John Lobb bootmakers are hard to miss on Jermyn Street for its grand, wooden store front, Victorian lamp, and royal crests above the door. Esquire magazine even called it “The most beautiful shop in the world” for its panelled walls, antique chandeliers, and the scent of leather filling the store. Founded in 1849, it is one of London’s few surviving ‘handmade to measure’ cordwainers.
Its founder, a farm boy from Cornwall, found success in presenting his skills in shoemaking at many of the Great International Exhibitions in Victorian times. This led to the opening of his own shop in the heart of the West End’s bespoke district, where he trained staff to work to his high standard, which would be passed on for generations. The company has made shoes for a high calibre of clients including King Edward VII, Frank Sinatra, George Bernard Shaw, Roald Dahl, and British Prime Minister Harold MacMillan. They also currently hold Royal Warrants for HRH Duke of Edinburgh and HRH Prince of Wales.
Every bespoke shoe goes through the same meticulous process, working to every client’s precise requirements. From the fitter, who records every aspect of each of the client’s feet, to the last maker, pattern cutter, and clicker (who cuts the leather and is so called because of the sound it makes on the workbench). It then goes to the closer who fits the leather around the last, followed by the maker who adds the sole and the heel, before the socker inserts the lining, stamped in gold with the highly-regarded John Lobb name. The final touches are added by the tree maker who creates an exact fit for the customer to keep their shoes in superb condition and the polisher who ensures they are pristine when they reach the customer.
They mostly work with men’s shoes, boots, and slippers, but also create for women. A selection of shoe care products, leather goods, and riding boot accessories can be purchased too.