Of the tailors I have interviewed recently in my Style and the Tailor series, several have mentioned that they wear John Smedley knitwear at the weekend. There is a reason for this.
Smedley rightly calls itself ‘tailored’ knitwear. It is fully fashioned, rather than being made of pieces that are cut and sewn together, which creates a much smoother and more ergonomic fit. You can see that in the shoulder seam of Smedley knits: its backward-sloping angle can only be achieved on fully fashioned knitwear, and it vastly improves the fit. Most tailoring, particularly that which prioritises comfort (such as Anderson & Sheppard) has a similar seam.
Classic items like the Dorset long-sleeved polo shirt have a much higher collar, making them suitable to wear under a jacket. Most polo-shirt collars are too small, and disappear under the jacket’s collar. Not a flattering look. The Dorset also has a turn-back cuff, which is much dressier, and like much of the Smedley collection is knitted in 30-gauge merino wool, making it easily light enough to wear under tailoring.
Much high-end knitwear is fully fashioned. But it doesn’t have these additional, dressy aspects, and it isn’t all made in the UK by a company that’s been making the same way for 230 years. Plus I don’t know anyone (other than Tom Ford) that makes fully fashioned cotton polo shirts.
Perhaps most importantly, the Classics collection doesn’t change. The body shape is the same across all the models – only the neckline varies. And since two years’ ago, nothing has been tweaked from season to season. That’s pretty rare these days.
More detail on Smedley models, including a feature on the factory, soon.