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John Smedley

The 225-year-old luxury knitwear brand’s shopfit in London pays tribute to its Derbyshire mill.

For its first standalone store, luxury British knitwear brand John Smedley draws on its 225-year-old heritage with a shopfit inspired by its mill which also captures the natural colours and elements of the Derbyshire countryside, where the mill is based.

The flagship, on Brook Street in central London, is located on two floors, with menswear on the ground floor and womenswear in the basement. It was designed by agency Four IV.

Menswear features a light grey stone floor and low spotlights that create a warm, welcoming atmosphere. Fixtures are made of wood and brass, inspired by original fittings from the mill in Matlock, Derbyshire. The left-hand wall is made up entirely of bobbins, a plaster cast of those in the factory. A wooden cash desk with a soft, leather surface sits at the back of the store. Behind the till, the wall plaster is part stripped bare to reveal original brickwork. Clothing is merchandised by colour, hung on original hooks taken from the factory. Replica pieces of machinery also double as rails on which to display the clothing.

An old oak-panelled staircase with brass rails, made in John Smedley’s mill, leads down to womenswear with its solid, oak floor. A wall of plaster-cast bobbins is sandwiched between huge, replica, sliding steel doors taken from the mill. The back wall is painted a light purple and the overall palette is green and earthy, reflecting the colours of a jay, the bird on John Smedley’s logo.
An ambient mix of jazz, classical and indie music plays in the background.

Accessories spill out of replica wooden factory shelves on the womens­wear floor. John Smedley store manager Neil Tweddell says business has been very good. “We haven’t been affected by the recession. People are still investing in quality garments,” he says.

John Smedley managing director Andrew Caughey says the format will be trialled at Brook Street over the next six months before a decision is made on any future UK openings. He says: “Our brand is unique as an English-based manufacturer of fine-gauge knitwear. The Brook Street store is an important way of communicating this.”

The brand - which was founded in 1784 by John Smedley and Peter Nightingale, great uncle to Florence Nightingale - started life as an underwear company and its product inspired the term long johns. It has 312 UK stockists and 700 international stockists.

Caughey adds: “As we develop our branding and communication plan we are also pursuing opportunities in our export markets, in particular Brazil, Russia, India, China and the US.”

Essentials

622 sq ft
Size of the store
312
Number of UK stockists
1784
Year John Smedley was founded

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