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A visit to John Lobb in Northampton

Discussion in 'Classic Menswear' started by bishop24, Mar 6, 2007.

  1. bishop24

    bishop24 Member

    Messages:
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    Location:
    Toronto, Canada
    I wanted to thank everyone for all the knowledge I've gained from having been a long-time lurker on the forum. I recently took a vacation to London to visit some friends and family and decided, as a direct result of reading posts here, to take a day trip to Northampton (February 23, 2007). I took the train--about an hour long ride--into Northampton and from there took taxis to visit John Lobb, Edward Green, and Crockett & Jones at which point Tony Gaziano very kindly offered to pick me up and take me to his shop and home in Kettering. I took a bunch of photos that I wanted to share with you guys. I'm still very new to digital cameras and am learning how to format photos for easy viewing on-line so bear with me if the EG and G&G reports are slow in coming (re-adjusting back to work life has also kept me busy).

    I know this has come up in several posts already, but I wanted to include this e-mail in case there was some confusion about where the shop was located and when it was open:

    Thank you for your interest in John Lobb's products.

    Very kind of you to come and visit us, however, the factory is not open to
    the general public. You can still visit our factory shop situated :

    J L & co Ltd
    Westminster Works
    Oliver Street
    Northampton
    Northamptonshire
    NN2 7JL

    Tel = + 44 (0) 1604 715011

    The shop is open Monday - Friday : 9am - 12.45 and 13.15 - 5pm
    Saturday : 9am -12 noon

    Hope to see you soon

    Kind regards,
    Valerie Guerin-Goff,
    Commercial assistant.


    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. This might be why factory tours are not offered, although there does seem to be some sort of factory still extant as you will see below.

    I should note that Valerie was great and did come by and say hello while I was trying on shoes in the factory shop.

    [​IMG]
    The humble exterior.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
    I left my bags and coat in the conference room. Which, upon closer inspection, revealed the...

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    John Lobb 2007! Am not sure if this is in stores yet. We don't have a John Lobb retailer in Toronto so it was news to me. After one of the caretakers offered me a coffee, they showed me into the shop...

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    Which was pretty much a do-it-yourself affair. It took quite a while for me just to get a good idea of what size fit me depending on last. All the grey boxes in the corner were of current season models; the rest of their stock was in the stacks organised by size. There were small pockets here and there for overstock direct from the Paris store as well as a small section of old vintage John Lobbs (mostly 1999, 2001). No distinction is made between regular and prestige line shoes--Chapels were going for 235 pounds! Most shoes sold for 235, although very old models ran slightly cheaper and those vintage JLs cost 300 pounds if they included shoe trees. Shoe trees were also sold. They only had trees for the 8695 last at 28 pounds and for the Vintage 1999 at 30.

    Managed to grab a shot of what I thought might be the factory before I left:
    [​IMG]

    All in all, it was a worthwhile trip. I am a small size and so it was hard to find the styles I was particularly interested in. I would have died if there were a pair of Chapels that fit me. Instead, I left with a pair of dark oak antique Derwents on the 8000 last in UK size 6E and a pair of chestnut museum calf Brackleys on the 7000 in UK size 5.5EE.

    I hope that helps demystify a bit of the experience!
     
    1 person likes this.
  2. globetrotter

    globetrotter Senior member

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    greater chicago
  3. Get Smart

    Get Smart Senior member

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    geebus, those tan wholecuts look sick as hell!!!! is that a new model, or something that's been available for a while?
     
  4. Connemara

    Connemara Senior member

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    No distinction is made between regular and prestige line shoes--Chapels were going for 235 pounds! Most shoes sold for 235, although very old models ran slightly cheaper and those vintage JLs cost 300 pounds if they included shoe trees. Shoe trees were also sold. They only had trees for the 8695 last at 28 pounds and for the Vintage 1999 at 30.

    OMG! 235 for prestige? I need to get me to Northampton!
     
  5. Ambulance Chaser

    Ambulance Chaser Senior member

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    Location:
    Washington, D.C.
    OMG! 235 for prestige? I need to get me to Northampton!
    [​IMG] [​IMG]
     
  6. robin

    robin Senior member

    Messages:
    12,416
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    Dec 5, 2006
    Wow. Thanks for sharing!

    And those boots in the corner...do you have any close-up pictures of those? The riding boots on the top shelf are calling to me from across the pond.
     
  7. sho'nuff

    sho'nuff Senior member

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    Location:
    Irvine
    i must have to reply, this is one awesome thread thanks Bishop!

    just looking at all those yellow shoeboxes is enough to invoke a Pavlov dog reaction within me!
     
  8. HalfCanvas

    HalfCanvas Senior member

    Messages:
    607
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    Feb 5, 2007
    Wow. Incredible prices indeed. When members visit Northhampton, they should be obligated to take orders.
     
  9. LabelKing

    LabelKing Senior member

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    Location:
    Constantinople
    OMG! 235 for prestige? I need to get me to Northampton!
    I don't think the British are as charitable, especially to an Irishman.[​IMG]
     
  10. The_Foxx

    The_Foxx Senior member

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    3,902
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    Location:
    Northern VA, USA
    wow-- what a trip that must have been, thanks for the excellent info and photos. a short stack of Chapels, and a whole room full of JL boxes with various models? nice!

    so, it's 235 british pounds for a pair of killer prestige shoes? that is incredible.

    maybe someone could simply ask an employee from the shop to post shoes for sale here on the forum, buying and selling area.
     
  11. william

    william Senior member

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    Wait...where did you see Tony Gaziano? At Crockett & Jones?
     
  12. hopkins_student

    hopkins_student Senior member

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    What is the typical degree of defect that gets a shoe sent here instead of to retail?
     
  13. PhiloVance

    PhiloVance Senior member

    Messages:
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    I believe most of the Lobbs for sale from certain sellers are in fact purchased from this factory outlet. There's probably some shoes with worse defects than others, but I would have to say the defects are minimal.

    At 235 GBP per pair, I'd like to think SF could guarantee to buy at least 15-20 pairs, I wonder if that would be enough to make it worth their time to put an inventory list together for us? [​IMG]
     
  14. von Rothbart

    von Rothbart Senior member

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    Don't bother calling the factory, it doesn't ship unless you're "introduced" by the Jermyn St. store. When it ships and if it ships, it doesn't take out VAT, shipping and handling is £50 a pair.
     
  15. Christofuh

    Christofuh Senior member

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    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.


    [​IMG]
     
  16. zjpj83

    zjpj83 Senior member

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    I would buy everything they had in my size.
     
  17. dkzzzz

    dkzzzz Senior member

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    Copy address into Google maps, switch to satellite view and start caressing JL factory building with tears in your eyes.[​IMG]
     
  18. RJman

    RJman Senior member Dubiously Honored

    Messages:
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    In the not too distant future
    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.
    [​IMG]
    Look on the bright side -- soon a Lobb factory trip might just mean a trip to TJ!
     
  19. bishop24

    bishop24 Member

    Messages:
    20
    Joined:
    Apr 5, 2006
    Location:
    Toronto, Canada
    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... [​IMG] 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.
     
    1 person likes this.
  20. william

    william Senior member

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    Thanks for the report. I was curious about Tony Gaziano being at C&J b/c there is some speculation on where his MTO G&G are being made.
     

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