During November, the 2023/2024 cohort of the ESSECGMBA Luxury Brand Management had the privilege of visiting the Atelier of John Lobb, the bootmaker company belonging to Hermès. Situated on rue de Mogador, this workshop is not only historic but also one of the few remaining bootmaker workshops in Paris. The cohort was given an introduction by the company’s International Commercial Director, Sylvain Joubert, followed by a privileged and informative walkthrough of the atelier for bespoke shoes.
John Lobb was founded in 1863 and was named as the bootmaker to the Prince of Wales, before opening the brand’s first bespoke boutique on Regent Street in 1866. In 1899, John Lobb evolved its international presence, opening its first Paris boutique. In 1976, the brand was acquired by Hermès, and in 1982 it first launched a ready-to-wear collection. Today, the label has a retail network spanning 19 global stores, from New York to Beijing, Dubai to Tokyo.The Parisian Atelier we toured specializes in creating custom-made boots and shoes. Crafting a pair of bespoke shoes involves a meticulous process that spans approximately 6 months, encompasses 190 steps, and requires the expertise of 15 artisans, each possessing unique skills. In contrast, the creation of an Hermès bag only involves the craftsmanship of a single artisan. John Lobb is dedicated to producing enduring boots and shoes by utilizing premium leathers, employing a distinctive construction method known as "Cousu Trépointe”, and ensuring that the shoes are entirely repairable.
During our visit, Mr. Joubert provided insights into the company's rich heritage, its organizational structure, the ready-to-wear line featuring iconic pieces like Lopez, William, and City II, as well as the intricate craftsmanship involved in the bespoke offerings. A significant part of our conversation delved into the contemporary challenges facing the House, particularly in maintaining a delicate balance between tradition and modernity. We explored the notion of preserving brand identity and staying true to historical roots while remaining relevant in today's dynamic landscape. This discussion was exemplified through an examination of the House's recent communication campaign, embodying the motto of "being serious but not taking ourselves too seriously." Ultimately, our dialogue extended to the key challenges that the House anticipates addressing in the years ahead to ensure sustainable growth amid the evolving business environment.Being granted the opportunity to make this visit was truly an honor and a privilege, underscoring the significance of craftsmanship and the passing down of expertise in the realm of luxury.