This year, John Smedley celebrates 225 years as specialists in fine, lightweight knitwear. The heritage brand was there at the birth of the industrial revolution, back when the first factories and looms were being built. The company has since come a long way and continues to innovate and evolve, and today is known as one of the world’s leading luxury knitwear specialists.
Founded in 1784 as a spinning mill, it wasn’t until 1825 when the second John Smedley took the reigns and set out a new vision for the company, where spinning, knitting and manufacturing takes place under one roof using only the finest raw materials. In 1893 John Smedley became a limited company and developed a production line capable of manufacturing fine gauge, fully fashioned underwear and outerwear. The company’s iconic Sea Island Cotton products came in 1922 and were first used to knit John Smedley underwear, unique for its fineness, luxurious staple length and high tensile strength.
Celebrating its 225 years, the company has launched the 225 Fine Underwear range. These pieces are made in England from pure natural fibres with the craft and skill of generations. You can also preview John Smedley’s Autumn Winter 2009 collection on its new anniversary website. The menswear collection combines signature styles and new pieces and revolves around three personalities that epitomise the spirit of John Smedley: Owl, Raven and Peacock. Each character is different, but all share a passion for luxury and design. The womenswear collection is based on reflection, back to the 1920s when notions of appropriate dress were being challenged. Loose, unusual shapes, layered with tapered classics create distinctive silhouettes.
Fans of the brand can share their Smedley stories by uploading these online on their anniversary website at www.johnsmedley225.com for a chance to win £225 worth of online vouchers.
A few reasons to admire and adore the John Smedley:
Working with the Environment
They have been ecologically friendly for over 200 years. John Smedley is situated in an area of outstanding natural beauty. This means they have always had a responsibility to the local environment. As washing is a crucial aspect of what they do, they draw unique water, not from dwindling resources, but from their own three underground springs, rising from the millstone grit of the Derbyshire Peak District National Park. The softness and purity of their water translates into the luxurious touch of their garments, as well as their shrink-resistance.
But, for future generations, they also want to keep that water pure. The water we put back undergoes stringent cleaning processes. They do use synthetic dyes – but only because the chemicals required to make natural dyes washable can be more damaging still. Rest assured that they won’t cut corners if it means cutting back on good ecological practice.
Made In England
It could be easy for John Smedley to manufacture abroad. In a globalised economy, it may even make sound financial sense. But they think that something special would be lost – that indefinable character that makes something exceptional.
John Smedley has been making fine knitwear in Derbyshire for over 200 years. Their family business was there at the birth of the industrial revolution, back when the first factories and looms were being built. That is a heritage to be proud of. And not one to be dismissed lightly.
Of course, looking back should not stop them moving forward. But they stay dynamic by staying put – because it is in England’s traditional knitting heartlands that are found generations of experience and skills in knitting and hand-finishing world-class knitwear. Those unique skills may come at a price. But, carefully nurtured, they ensure the highest quallity and innovation. It is they that allow John Smedley to be acknowledged as the best in its class.