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Industry Talk

Royal Warrant for John Smedley

240-year-old family-owned knitwear manufacturer granted Royal Warrant of Appointment by His Majesty King Charles III as manufacturers of fine knitwear.

13th May 2024

Knitting Industry
 |  Lea Mills, Derbyshire, United Kingdom


John Smedley has announced that on 7 May 2024, the Royal Warrant of Appointment was granted by His Majesty King Charles III as manufacturers of fine knitwear.

Ian Maclean MBE, John Smedley’s Managing Director and grantee of the Royal Warrant said: "This year is our family company's 240th anniversary manufacturing fine knitwear in Derbyshire. It is a great privilege and honour to have been granted the Royal Warrant of Appointment by His Majesty the King and all our colleagues, shareholders, and business partners will be delighted by this news. We remain committed to manufacturing all of our garments in Britain and have recently opened our factory to third party manufacturing again after 40 years, which we expect will be a growth opportunity for ourselves and those brands interested in re-shoring in the next few years."

Based at Lea Mills in Derbyshire since 1784, John Smedley is the oldest, still-operational knitwear maker in the world. Specialising in exquisite merino, John Smedley’s Sea Island Cotton, and cashmere, it is renowned globally for its craftsmanship and commitment to quality. The brand has been popular with the Royal family for many years, with Her Majesty the Queen visiting the factory twice, first in 1968 and again in 2014. John Smedley also previously held Royal Warrants from Her Majesty the Queen and the then Prince of Wales for the manufacturing of fine knitwear.

John Smedley is involved with a number of charities supported by His Royal Highness the King and Her Majesty the Queen including The Campaign for Wool, to champion the benefits of sustainable and natural fibres, and QEST - Queen Elizabeth Scholarship Trust, which supports British craftsmanship.

This April, coinciding with its 240th Anniversary, John Smedley announced it will reopen its production lines to brands for seasonal orders for the first time in more than 40 years. This strategic initiative by the company, which saw the brand invest upwards of £3m in its own factories, aims to encourage brands to bring knitwear manufacturing back to UK shores. By boosting the factory’s output, it will also futureproof the company and proudly support local jobs while inspiring more brands to make goods closer to home.

John Smedley Ltd is the oldest continuously operating manufacturer in the world, producing fine gauge knitwear from its Lea Mills, Derbyshire factory since 1784.  © John Smedley

John Smedley is committed to responsible production and sourcing. A fully transparent and traceable supply chain sees its merino and British wools sourced from farms in the UK — where fibres travel less than 300 miles from field to the Derbyshire factory — and New Zealand, which John Smedley has partnered with for more than 50 years and follows the highest ZQRX standards.

John Smedley’s Sea Island Cotton and silk, which are offered as standalone fibres and cashmere blends, follow a similar sourcing pattern with cottons grown in California. Cashmere is sourced from the Upper Alashan regions of inner Mongolia before being spun by specialists Zegna Baruffa, whom John Smedley have been working closely with for over 25 years. All cashmere fibres are GRS (Global Recycle Standard), SFA (Sustainable Fibre Alliance) certified.

Aligning with the Fashion Industry Charter, and the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, John Smedley is committed to reducing its greenhouse gas emissions by 30% within the next decade, achieving net-zero by 2050. All production runs for third-party brands will follow the same strict, sustainability protocols.

 John Smedley’s menswear and womenswear ranges are available worldwide via its stand-alone retail stores in the UK and Japan as well as online at Exports are made to over 47 countries worldwide via international wholesale partners such as Mr Porter, Selfridges, Harrods, and Le Bon Marche.

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