John Smedley’s hero moment of 2021 was being awarded a Royal Warrant of Appointment by His Royal Highness Prince Charles. This now sits proudly alongside the company’s Royal Warrant from Her Majesty The Queen, both testament to John Smedley’s commitment to creating fine knitwear of the highest quality, while protecting the skills of its craftspeople and being mindful of its impact on the planet.
Community is a value that underpins every aspect of John Smedley. Its own community of craftspeople is based at its historic Lea Mills home, but there are also the wider ones of sheep farmers, spinners and growers. In 2021 John Smedley worked hard to champion those communities via its partnership with ZQRX Merino, showcasing how these merino farmers are seeking to protect and nurture their flocks and land for generations to come. John Smedley also continued its support for British wool farmers and spinners, using their wool in its collections and drawing attention to fibres’ natural, sustainable qualities.
Last year, John Smedley went further afield to forge new partnerships with likeminded people. It developed the first ever John Smedley tartan collection, inspired by the original Maclean family tartans (the Maclean family comprises the 8th generation of John Smedley family members running the business today). Working alongside the last remaining mill in the Scottish Highlands, the brand reimagined an age-old, traditional craft for a contemporary customer. The result is a beautiful tartan collection that combines community and family history with high-quality craftsmanship.
John Smedley has continued to build upon its ethos of making the highest quality products, encouraging its customers to buy better products designed to last. It worked alongside Katharine Hamnett again, having originally collaborated with her in the 1980s. This time John Smedley and Katherine Hamnett collaborated on a range of garments bearing the slogan ‘Choose Slow’, prompting the wearer to think about what the clothes were made from, where they were made and the people who made them.
Deepening its commitment to British design, John Smedley celebrated its fifth anniversary of a project with British menswear designer Lou Dalton and other designers, including Holly Fulton and Phoebe English, supporting them to bring their manufacturing back to the UK. To celebrate the project’s anniversary, the brand re-launched five of Lou Dalton’s best-selling styles across their retail and e-commerce stores in the UK and Japan.
Over the last year, John Smedley’s passion for craftsmanship has extended beyond the sphere of clothing via its partnership with The Queen Elizabeth Scholarship Trust, enabling it to reach out to and collaborate with like-minded artisans from other disciplines. This resulted in a collaborative series of ceramic items with artist Matthew Foster. Inspired by the brand’s founder’s love of the colour blue, Matthew created a kaleidoscope of ceramic pieces in a spectrum of blue shades and reached new audiences by showcasing his craft via John Smedley’s London and Kyoto stores.