During my time in London, I swung by Udeshi and he indicated that JL had begun to outsource the production of some of their shoes--that the loafers, for example, were made in (don't quote me on this) Mexico or something along those lines.
Originally Posted by Christofuh
Look on the bright side -- soon a Lobb factory trip might just mean a trip to TJ!
To answer a few people's questions: I e-mailed Tony with a request to visit his main "factory" (in quotes because it really is just his home) of operations when I knew that I would be visiting Northampton. He actually lives in Kettering which is about a 15-20 minute drive. He mentioned that it might be a bit of a costly taxi ride and so offered to pick me up at Crockett & Jones since he had to be in town anyway to pick up some shoe trees that were being made for him. I have a feeling that he didn't really want to meet up with me at Edward Green, for obvious reasons, although Hilary did indicate that they are on quite amicable terms. We took a look around at some of C&J's stock and then we drove to his house where we had some coffee, offered me some food (which I politely declined), and some cough syrup as I was coming down with a cold. I'll write more about my visit to Tony's when I have the pictures ready. Unfortunately, I don't have close-ups of those boots. I do have the same photo that you see, but much larger and in higher resolution. I could zoom in on those boots and post a picture for you, but I suspect that they're similar to the riding boots that are available on the JL website. Actually, here's another higher-res shot of the shoe wall...it's not a great shot of the boots unfortunately... Regarding orders, I did notice some boxes of shoes lying around in some corners here and there that had clearly been marked "reserved" by a few different people (about 5 unique names who had anywhere from 2-5 boxes of shoes set aside for them). Am not sure if these are the people that were introduced by the Jermyn Street store. I was able to take VAT off for my purchases, but am not sure as well if it would be deducted if they were to ship shoes for you. All in all, it seems like a relatively low-key affair and I think they are trying to keep it that way. I was in that shop for two hours and only one gentleman stopped in and left after 5 minutes of browsing. As for the outsourcing of shoe production, Udeshi seemed to have quite a low opinion of John Lobbs going so far as to say he doesn't know what the big deal is about their shoes. We did establish that some and maybe even the majority of JLs production still remains in Northampton, but it seemed that he much preferred Edward Green to JLs. After my visits to both locations, I would tend to agree--although Lobbs still make a damn fine shoe. There are two reasons why shoes get sent to the factory store--defect or overstock. If in the case of overstock, there is no defect. With respect to typical defects, everything I saw was very minor. There was a pair of Romseys that I was eyeing, but there I did notice a slight tear in the leather near the top of the shoe. Of the two shoes that I purchased, one is overstock and the other I have difficulty still telling what the defect is. In contrast, the rejects that I purchased from Edward Green are relatively noticeable in why they are defective. Thanks again for your kind words guys! Was taking these photos with you all specifically in mind. Means a lot to give back to people from whom I've learned so much.
Thank you Bishop for a rather informative and helpful post. One hopes that you'll similarly record your visit to Edward Green. About JL and Mexico: one always had a suspicion that all was not well in the state of Denmark (to twist a line from Hamlet)
So you were asked into the conference room and as soon as you were alone you took out your camera? I hear that one of the clickers had seen you waiting for the shop assistant and out of pure niceness he asked you into the conference room and then left to make you a cup of coffee. That guy is in big trouble now, as you were never meant to be allowed into this room. Then again, how would the friendly fellow know that you would repay his hospitality with taking out your camera and taking pictures of shoe models that are not meant to be released for months? I am sure he also didn't expect you going on about an alleged JL shoe production in Mexico that happens to be based on pure hearsay. Go on, flame away guys! This event will make sure that people at JL Northampton will think twice next time they feel the impulse of being friendly or helpful to a customer they don't know. This is called the style forum. Your taking advantage of a genuinely nice person has to be considered terribly bad style. At least in my book.