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Guest Post: John Smedley factory visit by Beatrice Rosenqvist, MA Fashion Retail Management


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Published date
29 March 2016

Project – London College of Fashion & John Smedley

This term, we got the exciting opportunity to collaborate with the British heritage brand John Smedley as part of our unit ‘Creative Retail Spaces’. Our challenge is to design a new pop-up store experience for the brand. A format that allows the retailer to step out of its ‘comfort zone’, take risks and test a new concept. The overall aim is to explore and put together a creative retail space strategy that will effectively deliver the essence of the brand in a contemporary format. With this new space, John Smedley wishes to connect with the style-conscious shopper and challenge perceptions about the brand. Key points that will be taken into consideration are the product, omnichannel technology, window-display, stock, and payment solutions.

John Smedley – who are they?

John Smedley was founded in 1784 in Britain and has been designing, manufacturing and producing high-quality knitwear for men and women ever since. Their uniqueness is built on them producing all of their products in Great Britain. Apart from their British heritage, key focus is on quality, effortless design, craftsmanship, colour, and community. As a seal of quality the brand was granted the Royal Warrant of appointment as a ‘Manufacturer of Fine Knitwear’ by the Queen in 2013.

The factory visit – highlights

During February we got to visit the iconic factory in Derbyshire. We were offered a tour through the factory and got to interact with the community of employees, many of which have been working for the company for generations. The tour ended with a Q&A session with the CEO regarding the project. We also got an exclusive sneak-peak of the design studio, where the designers were working on future collections.

What next?

The project with John Smedley provides us students with the unique opportunity to engage with industry, gain critical knowledge and work experience: a practical side that greatly enriches our postgraduate curriculum. With long-term value and sustainability back at the top of the fashion agenda, John Smedley, one of the few remaining clothing manufacturers in Britain, has much to gain from increasing their overall brand awareness. I and my colleagues look forward to sharing our ideas for their future growth.