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John Smedley

April 26, 2019

John Smedley Fact file

John Smedley is a British brand and are the oldest manufacturing factory in the world. Since 1784.

An iconic award

John Smedley received a Royal Warrant in 2013 for providing the ‘place and quality of manufacturer of fine knitwear.’ The brand has been popular with the Royal family for many years – with HRH Queen Elizabeth II visiting the factory twice. Once in 1968, where she received gifts of Pullovers for Prince Andrew and Prince Edward and once in 2014 where she received a collection of Polo Shirts and Sweaters for Prince George.
A royal warrant is a mark of recognition for companies who have supplied the Royal households with goods for the last 5 years and currently have an ongoing trade arrangement.
The royal warrant itself is the document that gives the company permission and responsibility for the display of the relevant Royal Arms that is related to the business. All Royal warrant holders proudly hold mutual traits of the highest standards of service, quality and excellence.

Fun fact:

'Did you know it can take up to a year to create your John Smedley sweater from raw material to finished garment?'

Merino wool

We all know the quality of the merino wool is second to none. This means selecting the very best farmers in New Zealand to supply our extra fine wool. The wool must adhere to strict specifications not only to the quality of the fleece but also the welfare of the sheep, sustainability and protection of the farm land. For the quality of the finished garment the most important specification is the fibre fineness and length. Each fine Merino strand must be between 18-19 microns in diameter. Each smooth strand of merino ensures it’s soft to the touch and makes a finished garment perfect to wear next to the skin.

Sea island cotton

The history of the cotton goes further back than that. The Gossypium Barbadense plant is native to South America, that dates back thousands of years. It has also been grown in the West Indies since the 15th century, with it taking until 1786 for planting to begin in the part of the world that now gives the cotton it’s most popular name. An Englishman, Francis Levett, was among the first to plant Sea Island cotton in North America, only to be forced to flee his Georgia plantation as the American Revolution broke out.
Sea Island cotton’s association with the very finest quality clothing, greatly assisted with the Queen Victoria’s handkerchiefs being made from it – its expensiveness and difficulty of cultivation only increasing its exclusivity and allure.


To create the highly popular charcoal grey the head colourist would take 5 strands of black, 4 strands of ecru and 1 strand of navy which he would then hand blend by repeatedly pulling the Merino stands until they were eventually mixed into grey. The colourist would take note of the percentages of the shades used to ensure one would be able to replicate the final colour exactly. Each shade used to create the blend would be weighed on scales and then sent to be spun on a sample machine in the factory where it would create 100 grams of yarn that could be knitted to create a small sample for the design team to approve.