John Lobb’s Stylish New Loafers Are a Tribute to the Patron Saint of Shoemakers

Every historic trade, profession and cause has its patron saint. For shoemaking, it’s St. Crispin, who has been celebrated annually for generations in Northampton, the spiritual home of the craft in England. John Lobb, one of the most storied of the historic Northampton makers, has for the past twenty-five years marked the occasion with a special edition Saint Crépin model, designed to exemplify the height of the bootmaker’s art.

The annual commemorative model was introduced by Jean-Louis Dumas, former CEO and artistic director of Hermès. It’s a tradition that stuck at the house over the years, the brand told Robb Report, “becoming a highlight for our craftsmen and our customers alike. Each pair, produced in a limited-edition for this occasion, pushes the limits of John Lobb artisans, exceeding technical difficulties in the service of a new aesthetic.”

More from Robb Report

The Mayfair, John Lobb's 2023 Saint Crépin limited edition, comes in three colors: black, blue and brown.
The Mayfair, John Lobb’s 2023 Saint Crépin limited edition, comes in three colors: black, blue and brown.

Memorials are a chance to reflect on traditions, but also a chance to push the best parts of that tradition in new directions. While the John Lobb mainline is still handmade in Northampton, one point of appeal for the brand over the years has been the bespoke offering, which exemplifies the shoemaker’s art but also informs and advances the ready-to-wear offering. In its more recent formation under the Hermès Group flag, the Northampton factory works in tandem with a bespoke workshop in Paris, providing an exemplary case of continued cross-border European collaboration. The 2023 Saint Crépin limited edition is the Mayfair, a loafer based on the 7000 last, a slender shape with a tight waist and a pointed toe. It’s made in collaboration with the Parisian workshop: a quintessentially London shoe, developed in the heart of English shoemaking, but with a touch of French polish and verve.

The Mayfair is an elegant, minimalist whole-cut model, made with a seamless piece of leather running front-to-back and a hand-sewn apron, in the style of the brand’s Prestige collection. In place of a more casual penny or butterfly strap, there’s a second piece of highly polished marble calf leather. Visual interest here comes not so much from the simple finishing as from the unique marbled finish of the navy and dark oak leathers, while the solid black version is finished to a mirror shine. The limited edition runs to 500 pairs, each constructed by hand over six weeks in Northampton.

In any artisanal product, there’s always a temptation for craft to take over from design. As those who attend the World Championships in Shoemaking know, not everything that is a technical masterpiece is something that you’d want to wear. Here the complexity of the hand-finishing is laudably restrained, though: each of the Mayfair models is distinctive enough to know that you are wearing something truly special, and produced in such small numbers that you are unlikely to meet another pair in the wild, yet they are discreet and surprisingly versatile. These are loafers sleek enough for suits, but with enough character to dress down. Navy and dark oak are the most versatile options for business, but in black they’re also a particularly attractive option for eveningwear, and with black tie season around the corner, it’s a shoe doubly worthy of celebration.

Best of Robb Report

Sign up for Robb Report's Newsletter. For the latest news, follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Click here to read the full article.