Let's start with the second John Smedley. In 1819 John Smedley's son, also John Smedley, was apprenticed to the company and, after thorough training, took over at the helm six years later at the age of 24. With great energy and vision he set about modernising and expanding the business. He made it his aim to bring the entire manufacturing process under one roof, using the finest materials.
The second John Smedley achieved his goal and established a production line capable of manufacturing fine-gauge, fully fashioned underwear and fine knitted outerwear unparalleled in quality. He also extended the factory itself, installing new machinery and fostering the skill and loyalty of a growing workforce by providing sympathetic working conditions that were unusual for the age.
The second John Smedley had no heir when he died in 1875. The business was passed on to a third John, a cousin, J T Marsden Smedley. He died soon after in 1877 and the company was entrusted to his son, the fourth John.
John B Marsden Smedley went on to expand the company even further. He was chairman for an impressive 70 years, during which he installed high-tech knitting machines and oversaw the business becoming a limited company in 1893. John B Marsden Smedley assembled the most versatile contemporary spinning mules and knitting machines in the country under one roof.
"John Smedley today is based on 225 years' experience of knitting. We take our long-standing values and apply them to a contemporary fashion industry. We strive to make all our garments at our mill in Derbyshire, which keeps us true to our roots, but equally important, it means we manage our traceability. We're in control of what we create."It is rare that a manufacturer is so open about their practises and policies. There are no dark corners or hidden truths, everything you want to know from the quality of the products to the employment and ecological standards of the company are in the open. Only skilled tradespeople are employed, there are even employees whose ancestors worked for Lea Mills from the beginning making for generations of trained craftspeople in the employ of John Smedley.
Men's John Smedley is available online.