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What Paula Gerbase Found in John Lobb’s Factory Attic That Surprised Her

For John Lobb’s spring ’17 men’s collection, artistic director Paula Gerbase turned to the English heritage brand’s rich footwear archives.

“Surprisingly, there’s so much performance and sportswear in the archives,” said Gerbase. “I found a tennis shoe from the 1920s, a boat shoe from the 1980s, a leather ski boot with beautiful red laces — there’s even an ice skate.”

John Lobb Shoes
John Lobb’s spring ’17 Isle boat shoe.
CREDIT: Courtesy of brand.

While the designer referenced photos of archival styles, Gerbase also got her hands dirty by searching for newness in unexpected places — like an attic, for instance. “There’s a new boat shoe, which is a reissue of a 1980s boat shoe that I found in the attic of the factory,” she said. “It was so beautiful and modern, and it felt so right.”

The spring collection features lightweight constructions focused on function and new treatments of its recently introduced Levah sneaker.The colors of the collection are usually based on a trip I do to the south coast of England, either Cornwall or Devon,” said Gerbase. “This season I was looking at nature. There are quite a few rusty tones.”

John Lobb Levah sneaker
John Lobb’s spring ’17 Levah sneaker.
CREDIT: Courtesy of brand.

Another inspiration for Gerbase was the work of artist Richard Long: “A lot of his photography revolves around footsteps. That walking element has strong ties to John Lobb, because contact with the earth is what shoes are all about.”

Since joining the brand in 2013, Gerbase has played an integral role in modernizing the look of John Lobb, introducing more casual styles in favor of a younger customer. “It’s about listening to the customer who wants to wear John Lobb more often,” Gerbase told Footwear News. “Adding the plimsoll or new driving styles gives [our customer] an opportunity to have shoes for any occasion.”

John Lobb Inspiration Photo
A spring ’17 inspiration photo from John Lobb.
CREDIT: Courtesy of brand.

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