Smooth moves

En­ter the seam­less shoe

Wallpaper - - March - john­

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 wall­pa­

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