Paula Gerbase had a singular answer when asked what inspired her fall 2017 collection for John Lobb: water. She described it as an “unsung hero” that is central to everything the brand does. The label’s founder hails from the British seaside town of Cornwall, while its workshops are located near a river in Northampton, England.
“It’s so instrumental to the location of where all the shoemakers are, because they started to do the tanning near the river that runs through Northampton. Also, water is the one element that makes shoes really shine. When we start the finishing process, we intersperse water with wax,” said Gerbase during the presentation of her fall 2017 range for the British footwear brand, which featured a video of falling water in the background and water-filled displays.
The focus on water also translated into materials that were used in the collection, which included a croc-suede for boots. “It’s a naturally waterproof material. That’s how a lot of the leathers started to come around, which also means they get better with wear,” Gerbase added.
She used the same material, as well as the brand’s signature “museum leather” — usually reserved for formal shoes — to create elegant versions of the popular John Lobb low-top sneakers.
“It’s always been about taking formal techniques and applying them to the sneakers, but then also developing ideas like the lightness and the flexibility of sneakers into the traditional techniques. It’s interesting to have that dialogue at all times,” the designer said.
The contrast between the classic and the athletic continued to feature throughout the collection, with a series of formal lace-up brogues updated with chunky rubber soles, ideal for rainy weather.