Enter the seamless shoe
Designer Paula Gerbase subscribes to the mantra that the customer is always right. Or at least should be given a good hearing. ‘One of our bespoke clients challenged us to create a shoe that fits like a glove,’ says the artistic director of British footwear brand John Lobb. This test resulted in four seamless shoe designs, from a loafer to an Oxford, which have taken two years to develop and a minimum of 80 hours to handcraft.
Lightweight footwear has fascinated Gerbase since she joined John Lobb in 2014. Two years ago, the brand launched its ‘tensile’ construction, an unlined Goodyear-welted shoe designed for a ‘barefoot’ feel. ‘This is going one step further,’ she says of the latest seamless shapes, which form part of the brand’s Artisans’ Series, an annual capsule collection celebrating the craftsmanship of its bespoke workshop.
‘The first challenge was the lasts of the shoes,’ says Gerbase. In order to achieve the seamless design, Lobb’s craftsmen used a process in which calfskin is stretched over the last and fastened with 22 tension points. A ‘higher, rounder and more voluminous’ mould was developed to prevent the leather tearing during the process. To stop creasing, a larger piece of calfskin was also required. ‘It was about using something very soft and supple that could withstand significant pressure’.
The designs are also seamless on the inside, their inners crafted from multiple layers of paper-thin leather, and their internal workings dramatically shaved to achieve that lighter-than-air feel. Details include a flat sole with a gently rounding curve and raised slip-beading. ‘Because the shoes are all handmade, the potential is very different from ready-to-wear,’ says Gerbase. ‘You don’t have to think about the manufacturing process’.
The capsule collection will tour the brand’s global stores this month, alongside its head last maker, so that customers can place their personalised orders. Gerbase explains that many clients have already been drawn to the seamless concept. ‘For the first season, the order book is already bursting’.∂
the revolutionary new seamless shoe by john lobb comes in four styles, including loafers and oxfords. clients can then personalise them in their own choice of colour and fabric
shot on location at union wharf by nicholas szczepaniak architects. for more information, visit wallpaper.com