John Lobb St James Bespoke Single Monkstraps in Snuff Suede Review
Sadly not a pair that I was able to keep in my collection for long, these highlight one of the risks of buying second-hand bespoke off eBay, a topic I've covered here before. In spite of looking on paper like they should fit perfectly (at least going by the outsole length and width), when on the foot they felt at least a size too small. After one very painful walk to the shops they were back on eBay and gone!
Key lesson here before we go any further is: don't assume you can use a shoe's outsole length and width measurements as anything other than a rough guide!
Still though, I'm going to quickly reflect on some of the design details as other than being cripplingly uncomfortable to wear, they are a very beautiful pair.
John Lobb St James Bespoke single monkstraps
Bespoke sized - approx. UK 8.5 - 9
RRP approx. £4,000
The single monkstrap continues to be an elegant design, surviving in style terms even as it's double or triple strapped brothers fall into stylistic irrelevance (or you might still like them! Up to you).
The understated look is aided by rounded, plain toes with no medallions or broguing. They're a good casual shoe, not least because of the material (snuff suede is I think the most versatile casual dress shoe material and one that I'm a massive exponent of), but because they are very easy to keep by the door to slip on and off.
The John Lobb St James bespoke logo on the footbed, with distinctive signature brand name and Royal warrants. Like most elaborate logos, it can be a useful way of gauging how much wear the pair has by how legible the logo writing is.
Impressively solid sole-work, though very clearly at odds with the fiddle-backed and sculpted soles aesthetic on modern shoes. There is a pleasing robustness to the construction, even if it lacks Instagrammability.
Profile shots reveal how low and slipper-like the topline sits. This highlights an issue with bespoke shoes made for somebody else - if the fit isn't there in the rest of the shoe they will just slide right off, however much you try to pad out the tongue or heels.
Very neat back-seams, and a good shot to highlight the reddish-brown staining of the sole-edges.