Six months to make a pair of shoes
Neil and Michael explain the craft of last making and why it has kept them at John Lobb for over 30 years.
"In the shadow of St Jamess Palace is the workshop of shoemakers John Lobb. Since the mid-19th century, they have handcrafted shoes for gentlemen and boast royal warrants from both the Duke of Edinburgh and the Prince of Wales. Its a rare heritage company still run by the original family and this film follows a day in the life of the shoemakers, who use methods that have barely changed since the company was founded. From pencilled outlines on brown paper to the cutting and stitching of leather, heels hammered on soles to the final polishing, the film follows the meticulous craft process and hears from the shoemakers themselves, many of whom have spent decades working for the company."
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John Lobb Bootmaker is a company that manufactures and retails a very exclusive luxury brand of shoes and boots mainly for men, but also for women. It is based near St James's Palace, at 9 St James's Street, London. Founded in 1849, Lobb is one of England's oldest makers of bench-made shoes, worn by clients such as King Edward VII, famous 20th century opera tenor Enrico Caruso, and actor Daniel Day Lewis. John Lobb shoes are also worn by Ian Fleming's fictional character James Bond. At Lobb, special care is taken to select the fine leather skins—with crocodile skin shoes for about USD 8000 at the top of the range.
The original, family-owned Lobb still handmakes shoes one pair at a time, while Hermès who acquired use of the John Lobb name in 1976 broadened the reach of the John Lobb brandname through its ready-to-wear line. The production of each pair of John Lobb ready-to-wear shoes is so time-consuming that only about 100 pairs of shoes are finished per day.
Hermès' John Lobb shoes are available in both ready-to-wear and made-to-measure. Its motto is "The Bare Maximum for a Man".
Hermès' John Lobb shoes are sold in its own boutiques or in luxury department stores such as Harrods, Bergdorf Goodman, Selfridges, Neiman Marcus and Lane Crawford. Hermès' John Lobb also has boutiques in countries around the world, including the United States, Russia, Switzerland, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan and several European Union countries.
A pair of bespoke leather shoes costs over £2400. The average price is approximately £2700 (as on 15 January 2009), if ordering from the St James's Street shop.
Prince Charles Vintage bespoke hand made shoes by John Lobb
Vintage cleverley hand made shoes
.... It did occur to me to wonder what the eponymous George Cleverley (pictured, in black and white) would have thought. Born in 1898 into a shoe-making family, he worked for Tuczek in Mayfair for 38 years, before starting his own business in 1958 and rapidly becoming famous for his graceful shoes with the chisel toe, with clients of the calibre of Rudolph Valentino, Humphrey Bogart, John Gielgud and Winston Churchill. Eventually his pupils, John Carnera and George Glasgow (pictured, with Mr Glasgow on the right), became his successors. Mr Cleverley worked right up to his departure from this life, aged 93, in 1991. He had two great interests: shoes and horse-racing. Indeed, it was one of Mr Carnera’s regular duties to take his boss off for the day to the racecourse at Newmarket. I hope that the great man, who clearly enjoyed the good things of life, would have permitted himself a smile at my desire for co-respondent shoes. ( in "Welcome to Brown's Bespoke")
The tradition began after World War I, when George Cleverley worked for Tuczek, the fashionable shoemaker in Clifford Street, Mayfair, where he developed a signature style called the Cleverley shape, famous for its chiselled toe. The Cleverley quickly became popular with Rudolph Valentino, Humphrey Bogart and Sir Lawrence Olivier.
In 1958 Cleverley set up his own business in Cork Street, and continued to fit some of the most famous feet in the world, amassing a diverse client list that ranged from Sir Winston Churchill to Rolling Stone Charlie Watts.
Before his death in 1991 at 93, Cleverley appointed his successors, George Glasgow and John Carnera, current co-owners who carry on Cleverley’s shoemaking reputation. They trade as G.J Cleverley & Co, now located in the Royal Arcade adjacent to Old Bond Street. Today famous clients include David Beckham and Sir Elton John.
The handmade shoemaking process starts – with a style consultation and measurements.
A unique ‘last’ is made for each customer, which is a wooden block from which the shoe is built. The ‘last’ serves to reproduce the dimensions of the client’s feet.
One can approximate that 45-50 hours of work are required to complete a pair of handmade shoes. They will pass through the hands of several craftsmen, each with a specific skill such as cutting, closing or finishing, which means that the new customer can expect to receive the final product some four to six months down the line.
A pair of bespoke brogues cost in the region of £2,000.
As well as the renowned bespoke business, GJ Cleverley offer a semi-bespoke shoe service along with a readymade range that is very much influenced by the firm’s handmade products.
Their finest semi-bespoke and ready to wear collection is named after shoemaker Anthony Cleverley. This unique collection is styled from shoes once designed for Anthony’s clients, Baron de Rede, Count Visconti, Monsieur de Givenchy and the Rothschild family.
This collection is available as ready to wear from UK 6 to UK 12 sized shoes with half size increments. And also as a made-to-order Anthony Cleverley, for clients who will only wish to make slight modifications. These shoes will take between 12-14 weeks to produce. All shoes come with a lasted beachwood shoes tree .(in Toffsmen)