A Fine Man Once Said:

"Part of the 10 million I spent on gambling, part of it on booze, and part of it on women. The rest I spent foolishly."

- George Raft

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

The Quintessential Business Shoe? John Lobb's City II

A close-up of the understated elegance of the leather stitching on John Lobb's
quintessential conservative business dress shoe, The City II.

          I've been on something of a vintage Edward Green kick lately, which you've probably picked up on if you've been dropping by An Uptown Dandy the last few weeks. Although Edward Green's are probably my favorite manufacturer of ready-to-wear English-made shoes - because of (in my opinion) the lasts, the exquisite antiquing and burnishing on every shade of brown that the company produces, and of course their often sublime broguing, John Lobb has a loyal following for many of the same reasons.

          Lobb enthusiasts swear by the 7000 last and their "museum" calf offerings, and I long ago became an ardent admirer of both (see my previous post on the John Lobb 2008 here). While my understanding is that the company has recently switched from production of the "museum" calf to a "misty" calf with the same something of the same antiquing qualities on display, you can still find some of Lobb's classic models in the old "museum" calf leather.

          Shoe enthusiasts will debate which Lobb offering is the quintessential conservative dress shoe: the Phillip II or the City II, the only real difference between the two being the Phillip's broguing at the toe cap and along the five-eyelets. Obviously, one can hardly go wrong with either, but if you're looking for an elegant shoe with sleek lines and no broguing, the City II is truly a shoe without peers. Accept no substitute.

          At the time I purchased this pair, I had only recently picked up a pair of John Lobb Tudors, a chelsea boot, in parisian brown museum calf. I was leaning towards the City II in either a dark or light brown - with the recent acquisition of the Tudor in Parisian Brown ultimately pushing me towards the City II in a lighter shade of brown. I eventually came across a museum calf in a chestnut-type of shade called "new gold museum calf."

          To put it simply, museum calf is really something that one needs to see in person to fully appreciate. I've tried to capture the "liveliness" of the leather attained by virtue of the museum calf's "mottled" color, but I'm sure my photos don't do it justice. What I've really come to appreciate is the juxtaposition of the classic styling of the City II with the energetic tone of the new gold museum calf. In my opinion, the same shoe in dark brown museum calf or parisian brown is quite conservative. But I like that the gold museum color succeeds at spicing things up a little - of course, sticklers to the rules of traditional business dress would argue that the color renders these shoes inappropriate for business. And, traditionally speaking, they are probably right. However, in this age of business casual and dressing down at almost any social event, I'm sure I'll be able to find enough events to keep these shoes in circulation.

A view from the front: The City II with a single sole,
although there isn't much waist suppression to speak of.

More understated elegance: The stitching above the back quarter.

The sole of the City II: channelled soles with the inimitable "JL" rubber heel design. The waist is slightly bevelled, although prestige line shoes clearly have more of a bevelled waist.

          John Lobb's City II: regardless of your choice of leather color, any aspiring shoe connoisseur and uptown dandy should have a pair in his collection.


  1. Dear blogger,

    I'm sad to notice all pictures are out of focus. If you only had the time, re-shooting this pair would greatly enhance your pleasing review (and help us collectors decide whether last 7000 is our cup of tea).


  2. I enjoyed the review and pics, thanks!

  3. It's criminal that Lobb does not use Ilcea's Radica anymore (Lobb called it 'Museum'). Radica is a line of aniline leathers that are sponged while still wet to give them a marble-like variegation. Lobb Paris calls it "museum calf", but Gravati prefers to call it what the tannery calls it. Perhaps they had a falling out. with Misty not so good. nice post. cheers, Nick

  4. Out of focus, or not, a gorgeous pair of shoes. I'm terribly envious.

    Best Regards,

    Ulrich von B.

  5. Hi all,
    Thanks for the kind words!

    I didn't know the name of the tannery that Lobb used, thanks for the info. I assumed the leather was simply no longer accessible for some reason - - it would be interesting to know the reason for the switch . . .I agree, the misty calf is nice, but the patina is just not in the same ballpark as the museum calf.

    I spoke to some friends today who had visited the site earlier and no one thought the images were blurry (they don't look blurry to me either). To be honest, they look about the same as all my pics, which is to say not good, but not blurry either . . . sometimes the images take a second to focus while the page loads?

    Anyway, thanks again for dropping by!
    Dan F. (An Uptown Dandy)

  6. If you click to see the large picture,yes, obviously some of the picture is blur.