Whether you be 3 or 53, you can never be too old for a birthday celebration. It’s a day to mark your growth, your achievement and your very being in the world and hopefully, it’s a day where people make a fuss of you.
So imagine having your 235 birthday, yes, that is right, 235. Ok, this isn’t a human miracle because this birthday is a celebration for the knitwear brand John Smedley.
Providing you with the details of the celebration which is beginning at London Crafts Week, (and go on for the whole year) the knitwear brand are curating a series of events and product launches via a partnership with QEST (Queen Elizabeth Scholarship Trust) a charity that supports the training of craftsmen across different creative spectrums from music to ceramics.
The events will also include collaborations from 10 artists selected for this grand celebration who have been QEST scholars. They will produce 10 pieces which will then be auctioned at the QEST annual fundraising event in 2020, with all funds raised being dedicated to furthering a new QEST scholar for future years.
Two of the ten craftsmen have additionally worked with John Smedley to create two unique pieces of knitwear.
Alice Walton, a ceramic artist who also had designed part of John Smedley’s collection which is a long sleeved round neck piece called Watts in Navy made out of John Smedley’s Sea Island cotton and cashmere, the dress can be worn as an outfit both for work and a day out in the city. A master’s student in Ceramics and Glass at the Royal College of Art, she has her work exhibited at Tate Modern and Made London and Tom Sands, a guitar-maker known for making custom-made acoustic guitars being graduated from Glasgow School of Art in product design. Featuring two large pockets on the front and striking notch lapels. The jacket titled Oxland captures the elegance of John Smedley and also aesthetically demonstrates Tom’s craftsmanship.
John Smedley was established in 1784 during the industrial revolution, starting with the production of simple muslin fabrics to producing more complex knitwear pieces using first ever fully functioning knitting machines coming a long way by now being the go-to designer for Vivienne Westwood and Paul Smith.
With a talk hosted by Managing Director and 8th generation Smedley family member Ian Maclean on Friday, May 10th detailing ‘Craft & Form’ featuring stonemason Zoe Wilson and ceramic artist Alice Walton whose attention to quality raw materials and construction mirrors that of John Smedley’s own to knitwear. Following this the programme moves on to showcase luthier Tom Sands whose talk and performance ‘Sound & Vision’ on Saturday 11th May will detail how his own attention to the minutest of details can affect the sound of the end result, this will be further demonstrated via a live guitar performance on one of Tom’s own instruments.
Following this exploration of British craftsmanship, John Smedley looks to its own rich history of Britishness and the world’s finest noble fibres, and in October we will launch our official 235 collections as part of Wool Week 2019. Not only crafted in Britain but entirely farmed, spun, knitted and hand finished within the UK and featuring some of the most unusual fibres.
For the first time in its history, John Smedley will present a three-fibre collection across menswear and womenswear featuring British Guanaco, British Alpaca, and British Sheep’s wool. Whilst British Sheep and Alpaca may be well-known fibres, John Smedley’s collection will mark the first ever British Guanaco garments in the entire world, never-before spun for a brand or company this fibre, which is second only in the world to Vicuna in fineness is extremely rare and will be offered in a single unisex style of which only 25 in the entire world will be made available exclusively at John Smedley’s London stores.
Speaking about the 235 collections, Marketing & Design Director Jess Mcguire-Dudley stated
“We are extremely proud to be able to launch the 235 collection, the quality and traceability of these garments is truly unrivalled, and we are delighted to be able to share not only our history but that of the individual garments with our consumers, who will be able to follow the garment’s journey from herd to store. This is not just a campaign or collection for us, it is a global representation of our brand truths of quality, the finest, noble fibres and the most honest and passionate approach to our craft.”
The collection offers not only the finest noble fibres but a completely traceable, ethical and sustainable product that can be traced back to the individual animals, such as John Smedley’s dedication to the fibre that they have protected their own herd of British Alpaca and Guanaco animals – each named after important Smedley family members.
Capping off the campaign will be a special Christmas collection entitled ‘Legacy’ born from our archives and the Smedley family’s shared memories of quality and their involvement with the business’s iconic history, this collection will be modelled by three generations of the John Smedley family and will launch in November 2019.