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John Lobb bespoke models on eBay

Reddit user u/The_Bone_Clock recently posted some reviews of two pairs of John Lobb bespoke pairs he had made in the 1980s, and which by all accounts seem to be holding up very well. There are some pics below, but if you want to see more details check his reddit profile here. It was an interesting insight into a world that the overwhelming majority of people are priced out of, with modern JL bespoke starting at £5000 and going up from there.

Interestingly, he states that at the time they cost about $850 at the time he ordered them, which accounting for inflation would be about $2,400 today. I wonder if he ordered them in 1985 when the pound completely crashed against the dollar - they would have been quite the bargain!

Note we are speaking here about John Lobb the purely bespoke maker in this post, sometimes called John Lobb St James. For details on the difference between that company and the more widely known John Lobb and their mostly RTW output, see this article where I review a pair of John Lobb bespoke derbies (shown below) and go into the brand(s) somewhat torrid and confusing history.

I've bought a lot of second-hand bespoke shoes on eBay before and covered my successes (but mostly misadventures in previous posts). The long and short of it is that in spite of the impressive price and pedigree of many of these makers, buying shoes that were specifically made for somebody else's feet very rarely results in a good fit. And if your shoes don't fit you, they frankly aren't that much use, regardless of how much they cost in the first place. Of the maybe 20 or 30 pairs I've bought on eBay that all seemed like they should fit on paper, I've kept only 2. Make of that what you will.

I've recently noticed an eBay seller who seems to have come into a good collection of used Lobb models - in these situations, it's often a very rich person who just bought way too many shoes, uncollected orders from the shop itself, or shop samples. Given they are all the same size it seems either just one person's collection or shop samples.

Regardless, it's a good chance to have a look at a collection of models from one of the more esteemed bespoke London makers. I do find that the "Old Money" makers like Lobb, Cleverley and Foster & Sons aren't over-represented on the internet - the kind of person that buys them is hardly going to be posting their photo reviews on Styleforum or Reddit. With Lobb in particular, the styling of their shoes is very out of step with the modern zeitgeist - they are sturdy and well-made shoes, but not overly sexy. Modern consumers who associate premium shoemaking with makers like Gaziano & Girling or Yohei Fukuda will be very surprised at just how boring these look.

The seller incidentally is rachael17a, which I suppose you can find by Googling it or whatever. They are still listing a few of the below pairs, with completed listings going for £300 - £400. If my experience is anything to go by, you will probably see several of the already purchased pairs popping up on eBay in the near future with hugely inflated prices from what they paid, though in truth these types of mega-luxury items often hold a very poor resale value compared to their original price.

As mentioned, I would personally not pay more than £400 for a second-hand bespoke pair - the risk of poor fit is just too high. Even though that may seem like a bargain compared to the RRP, there is an overwhelming probability these shoes will not fit you. I'd only recommend this when the shoes are a real bargain BIN price or the seller accepts returns.

The outsole measurements for most of them should equate to about a UK 8.5 or 9, but outsole measurements don't tell the whole story when it comes to fit as they don't tell you anything about the shape of the last beyond its "footprint". So, caveat emptor.

There's an interesting selection of styles on offer here, and it's sobering to think that this particular selection would represent in the neighbourhood of £100k worth of shoes at RRP with Lobb's current pricing. Not what I'd choose to do with the money, but you have to assume the original buyer wasn't exactly hard-up for cash.

For more discussion of the fine art of buying such shoes from eBay and whether it is worth all the faffing around (hint: it's probably not), why not have a look at this article?

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Nov 01, 2022

The brown derbys have quite a nice waist/heel. I think I'd go for those plus the brown loafers (both calf and suede).

I imagine if you can find bespoke samples, they would offer the best chance of fitting as they would be made on a more generic last shape.

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