John Lobb Forges Ahead With Bespoke

NEW YORK — John Lobb is bolstering its bespoke business.

The high-end men’s shoemaker opened a new flagship for its made-to-measure operations in Paris last month and launched a bespoke collection to celebrate the move.

The French firm, part of Hermès International, set up shop in the heart of Paris at 32 Rue de Mogador, steps away from the famed Palais Garnier opera house. At 6,500 square feet, the space serves as headquarters for John Lobb’s bespoke business and includes craftsmen workshops and administrative offices. The made-to-measure salon, where customers will be fitted by appointment only, opens in early 2010.

“The idea was to repeat what happened in 1902, when John Lobb came to Paris from England,” said Renaud Paul-Dauphin, CEO and general director of the brand. “He [built] his workshop together with a shop and an office in the Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré.”

Paul-Dauphin added that the move should also encourage more interaction between customers and the company’s 15 craftsmen working onsite.

In honor of the street name, the company is unveiling a new line — the Mogador Bespoke Collection — made up of 11 styles retailing for $6,000 with a wait time of three to four months.

“These shoes are a little more modern and very international in look,” said Paul Goring, director of operations for John Lobb USA. “One pair is made per calf skin, which is much more expensive [to do].”

Among the styles on offer are single and double monk shoes, a two-eyelet derby, a slip-on oxford and a tassel loafer. All the shoes in the collection feature a sole that has been dyed “Mogador purple,” a color said to have been worn by Roman aristocrats.

Even in this economy, Paul-Dauphin said, the demand for bespoke footwear is high.

“[People] are very much into creating their own designs,” he said. “Bespoke is now more than ever a strong trend in our industry.”

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