In a world of luxury leather goods, there are some brands I consider heavy-hitters, who have spent decades upon decades in the industry, and some who are established but proportionately new.
An example of the former is John Lobb, a bespoke bootmaker from London. The brand, which was established in 1866, has a distinctly highbrow, English spirit and was a hit in Europe from the start. It’s since moved into ready-to-wear and generally expanded its retail network to Asia and the Middle East, as well as to leading digital retailers, to cement an international presence. The latter is my brand, which I established and built over the last two decades as a brand that channels a casual Californian aesthetic but is still luxe. Both John Lobb and Esquivel make luxury shoes of the highest quality, but we each put our twist on things.
Here are some of the main differences.
John Lobb: A classic yet rarefied luxury brand
John Lobb came from humble beginnings, having been born in a small, southwestern English village in 1829. He cut his teeth as a shoemaking apprentice and departed for London in his early 20s in search of better opportunities. From there, he gained passage on a ship to Australia as a member of its crew and became known in Sydney for making boots for gold miners, according to Forbes. Upon returning to the English capital in 1863, Lobb was named bootmaker to the Prince of Wales and opened his first shop just a few years later.
By the turn of the century, the bespoke shoemaker had expanded, opening a boutique in Paris. In the 1970s, it was acquired by the iconic purveyor of leather goods, Hermès. And it wasn’t long after that the brand expanded into ready-to-wear, or off-the-rack, footwear, handmade in its Northampton workshop. The label is perhaps best known for its bespoke boots and $1,900 ready-to-wear oxford shoes, which have paced boardrooms around the world. Today, you can find them on retailers like MR PORTER and Matchesfashion.
John Lobb’s shoes and boots are handcrafted in a manner that requires complex skill and acute attention to detail. Its products are made with high-quality leather, and they’re Goodyear welted for sturdiness—elements that mark a well-constructed pair of shoes.
Esquivel: A 21st-century brand channeling casual sophistication and fair pricing
Esquivel was founded about 20 years ago with the value of handmade and made-to-order shoe processes in mind. Much like John Lobb, Esquivel started small and grew steadily, so as not to grow too quickly and in turn diminish the integrity of the business, which was, first and foremost, handcrafting shoes for premier retailers and private clients around the globe.
Esquivel may not have scaled like John Lobb (or any other major luxury label for that matter), the reason being the company is new comparatively and values the personalized experience that comes with specializing in handmade shoe-making too much to ever lose it. To not only keep but enhance that experience, we opened Esquivel House—the team’s definition of the perfect place to order Esquivel shoes and everything else for casual yet sophisticated dress. There are only a handful of craftsmen who work on Esquivel shoes and boots, which is purposeful because it allows the founders to take a more hands-on approach to design and creation, as well as for better quality control.
There are countless steps the cobblers must follow to complete handmade leather goods, and this time and care spent inevitably plays a role in pricing. But when products are made by makers from start to finish, there is an assurance of exceptional quality and one-of-a-kind details. That’s the promise Esquivel makes and fulfills daily.
Each brand has its appeal and value. Something I say pridefully is that these respective brands are very well-made. Aesthetically, we each have our own perspective, though I like to think we’ve both bred our brands from our values of exceptional craftsmanship, wearability, and personalized service. John Lobb has pretty consistently channeled a style serious, sophisticated, and distinctly British, while Esquivel takes a more playful, West Coast-inspired approach to shoe and accessory design. In purchasing a luxury shoe or accessory, you can’t go wrong with either brand, as both are designed with versatility and longevity in mind, and warmly welcome you to an intimate experience, be it for bespoke, made-to-order, or ready-to-wear footwear.
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With over 20 years in the fashion industry, Esquivel Shoes takes pride in being a valuable resource for shoppers. To learn more about our own handmade shoe collection or any other products we offer, send us a message through this link. We’re here to give you peace of mind and help you find the best handcrafted shoes for you.
George is a Southern California-based designer and craftsman who designed his first pair of shoes in 1994 and began honing his craft thereafter. For over 20 years, he’s operated his namesake brand, Esquivel, which specializes in handmade shoes and accessories. In the last decade, George served as Creative Director of renowned luxury bag and luggage brand Tumi Inc. and as Creative Consultant for Italian heritage brand Fratelli Rossetti, and has collaborated with many others for his own brand. George was a 2009 CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund finalist, and has been a CFDA member since 2010. When he’s not working alongside his team of artisans at his atelier, Esquivel House, in Downtown Los Angeles, George is enjoying time with his wife and high school sweetheart, Shelley, and their three grown children. He also loves mountain biking and hosting good friends for dinners and fêtes.