It’s not often that I see discounted John Smedley pullovers, but Beams currently has a whole raft of them in their summer sale. I picked up this “Bluebird” blue V-neck cotton jumper at 40% off the normal price.
I only recently learned of the history of the John Smedley brand which, amazingly, stretches back some 200 years. In 1784 two industrialists, Peter Nightingale (father of famous nurse Florence) and John Smedley, founded Lea Mills near the town of Matlock, Derbyshire. Lea Mills initially produced muslin for local cottages, but in 1825 John Smedley’s son, (who was, confusingly, also called John), took over the running of the business. Under the younger Smedley’s stewardship the company embarked on a period of expansion. With the mills having already branched out into wool and knitting, John Smedley now began manufacturing finished garments as well.
Fast forward to the present, and you’ll find that the 21st century hasn’t exactly been kind to John Smedley – it made a loss in 2002 and 2003. But, thanks to its dedication to quality, as well as a heritage-loving Japanese following, the company has been able to keep its head above water. It has also been able to resist the temptation to “offshore” production to China: all John Smedley knitwear continues to be made in Lea Mills. And long may it do so.