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John Smedley are renowned for their specialist experience in creating the world's finest knitwear. Their mill in Derbyshire, England dates back to 1784 where the brand was born at the cusp of the industrial revolution - they are one of Britain’s longest standing manufacturers, if not the world’s oldest factory. Founded by Mr John Smedley and Mr Peter Nightingale (Florence’s great-great Uncle) and inspired by Richard Arkwright who had established the world’s first water-powered spinning mill close by just 13 years prior, their Lea Mills factory pioneered the fine knitwear revolution. In its early days the mill specialised in the production of muslin and spinning cotton and towards the end of the 18th century, their expertise extended to include knitting. Still family owned and with 230 years of experience and 50 of the best British craftsmen, John Smedley continue to produce all their garments in the UK.


John Smedley was amongst the first spinners and hosiery manufacturers to make underwear using quality fibres such as merino wool from the early 19th century. They are rumoured to be the originators of the infamous ‘Long Johns’. They quickly picked up pace and began producing underwear, becoming very popular amongst wealthy and middle class Victorians. During a time where central heating was non-existent, Smedley was able to provide quality undergarments that were well fitted, warming and ultra soft. They now focus wholly on their knitwear line and continue to be the world’s leading manufacturer of fine knit gauges.

John Smedley has made it their mission to always install cutting-edge technology since their inception in 1784. After becoming one of the first companies to install fully fashioned knitting machinery, they pioneered knitting techniques to produce a bespoke shape structure; by increasing or decreasing the number of needles used. In the 1990s, Smedley explored computerised Japanese flatbed technology to knit large pieces of fabric including front, back and sleeves, which would then be cut and pieced together, known as the the ‘Cut & Sew’ method. Now in the 21st century, John Smedley are investing in ‘wholegarment’ machinery allowing the production of entire garments without linking, seaming or sewing. Advancements in 3D technology offers comprehensive support to the entire knitwear production process including ultra-realistic simulation, mapping and modelling capabilities.

Known for their fine knits, 30 gauge is the most common gauge that the Smedley craftsmen knit in. Gauge simply refers to the number of stitches a garment has per inch and the gauge itself depends on the size of yarn, needle and the stitch pattern. The fatter the needle or yarn is the broader the stitch will be and therefore the gauge will be lower. The finer the needle or yarn is, the narrower the stitch will be and therefore the gauge will be higher.

John Smedley has a rich history of employing local families who have worked at Lea Mills over several generations. Bringing years of experience and an incredibly high level of craftsmanship that can’t be found anywhere else, these families have formed the foundation of the John Smedley brand, holding their heritage & history very close to the heart.

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John Smedley received a Royal Warrant in 2013 for providing a 'place and quality of manufacturer of fine knitwear'.