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Lobb St. James versus Santoni?

lordofpi

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I was having a conversation with a friend of mine who sells shoes today. He is always particularly proud to sell Santoni -- particularly the FAMs. We somehow got on a tangent about bespoke, and he remarked to me about Santoni having better quality construction as well as better leather than the rarified Lobb St. James bespokes. He told me a story of a customer who came in with monks made at Lobb St. James who tried on a same-style from Santoni's bench-mades, and love the Santoni much more.

He knows me well and has no reason to make this up. I am curious to hear from anyone who has shoes from St. James who can speak on this subject. I always thought that Lobb (real Lobb) provided the end-all of the experience, and I wanted to try it them at some point, but now I am hearing contrary. Someone please restore my faith.
 

antirabbit

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Italian shoes vs other countries (save Vass and St. Crispin) are very different from one another. Lobb St. James is not nearly as full as ornamentation as say a limited edition FAM Santoni.
I do not have Lobb but I will say that high end Santoni is a very fine shoe.
 

lordofpi

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Well, he was putting aesthetics aside and speaking of leather quality, comfort, and quality of construction.
 

FidelCashflow

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Ummm.. that doesn't prove construction quality is better because the guy liked it more. I'm guessing they're pretty similar in terms of quality.

Styling is fundamentally different between John Lobb shoes and Santoni FAM, with the former being much more conservative in their designs. I have JL's (not bespoke though) which I'm happy with. For my next pair, I think I'd want a pair of Santoni FAM because I like the over-the-top patinas that they do.
 

lordofpi

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^These are some good points. As I've thought about it, there are some other things to consider despite this gentleman being my friend:

(1) He sells shoes in a store where Santoni is heavily marketed, even to the point that Ferragamo and Testoni and other brands generally in this same league are scarcities. In other words, Santoni is the highest end brand they offer. Therefore, he has no choice but to drink of the proverbial Kool-Aid from Santoni (not to say that it is complete propograndy, but rather that to say that Santoni marketing is all he hears, and compared to the other products he sells, they are truly the best!).

(2) As you have said, one person's preference does not amount to a hill of beans in the grand scheme of things (even though it is our hill, and our beans!). Also, I don't personally know this supposed customer. The man may have poor taste; or the Lobbs he wore may not have been made for him originally or were somewhat out of measurement; or he may have had sweaty boot rash in his Lobbs and putting on a fresh shoe in a cool box felt better.

(3) While I concede that Santoni, on the whole, is wonderfully constructed, and beautifully antiqued (speaking mainly of the FAMs), I am generally a conservative person with respect to my style of dress. That is why I always thought a bespoke Lobb [St. James] would truly be the brass ring of footwear for me. It just worried me that he was insistent that the construction, on the whole, was superior -- i.e., of better materials and of better workmanship.

I own a few pairs from JL Paris (owned by Hermes, if I remember correctly), and I find them to be beautifully designed and well-crafted. Everyone who has seen pictures of my JL Brooklands knows what I mean. I guess this thread is really just to make sure I am not the crazy one here (compared to him, I mean; I know I'm already over the limit!).
 

swiego

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When he tells you that the leather quality is better, ask him where the respective leathers come from and what specific treatments to the leather result in one being better than the other.

When he tells you that the construction quality is better, ask him what specific construction details separate the Santoni from the others.

When he tells you that they are more comfortable, well then you know it's just mindless sales pitching. Comfort is subject and a function of fit and foot; often a cheap $10 sneakers can be more comfortable than a $1000 Lobb or Santoni. Comfort rarely has much to do with quality.

Personally, it sounds like a salesguy hawking a product.
 

lordofpi

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^Very good points. Over the years, I have rarely bought shoes from him, but I suppose at the end of the day, he still considers me a customer to a degree for occasionally having done so. The other points aside, what are some particular points that actually do contribute to higher leather quality (full grain, of course)?
 

zjpj83

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The "comfort" issue in a bespoke vs. RTW product is particularly striking and kind of calls into question the other statements.
 

lordofpi

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Well, he has not detered me from wanting to try Lobb, but it definitely made me less excited about it. I'm glad that I getting some of his hype dispelled here.
 

zjpj83

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Lobb also costs like $5,000+. I would hope it's better.
 

antirabbit

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Originally Posted by lordofpi
Well, he was putting aesthetics aside and speaking of leather quality, comfort, and quality of construction.

Often the way a shoe is stitched contributes to the way a shoe feels, many of the Santoni's have very ornamental stitching. That is was I was eluding to.

Quality wise, I would ditch both and just by some Vass.
 

Saratorial_Splender

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I think the Santoni LE handmade is second to none. I wore Lobb all my life and they are fine, but in general, very square and rigid. Most people see the normal pedestrian styles of Santoni at Nordstrom or eBay, however, once you see the handmade variety and try them on, you realize what a superbly made shoes and extremely stylish. John Lobb is still making shoes the traditional way, which is great, however, we are in the 21st century and there are new techniques to deal with leather and finish that John Lobb folks could learn from Santoni. There are many brands at this level that are superb; however, few offer style that is beyond "safe" or pedestrian.
 

stilmacher

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I don't think any line of Santoni reaches the level of the top bespoke makers.
 

pledge

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Originally Posted by Saratorial_Splender
I think the Santoni LE handmade is second to none. I wore Lobb all my life and they are fine, but in general, very square and rigid. Most people see the normal pedestrian styles of Santoni at Nordstrom or eBay, however, once you see the handmade variety and try them on, you realize what a superbly made shoes and extremely stylish. John Lobb is still making shoes the traditional way, which is great, however, we are in the 21st century and there are new techniques to deal with leather and finish that John Lobb folks could learn from Santoni. There are many brands at this level that are superb; however, few offer style that is beyond "safe" or pedestrian.

Do you mind elaborating on what you mean when you say that Lobb's are "square and rigid"? Are you referring to the styling? leather? etc.
 

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