Shifting to more ethical and intelligent ways of working is the zeitgeist of fashion in 2019. Slowly but surely, more brands are placing an emphasis on environmental consciousness and, as ardent supporters of sustainable efforts, we’re celebrating the brands doing just that. Each week, we’ll be meeting the brands fashioning beautiful goods with the greater good in mind.

In an age where emerging talents are leading the way to a more responsible way of making their clothes - look to Rani by Raja’s collaboration with ATMA for example, it can be hard for the bigger, more established brands to keep up. But for John Smedley, who was first established in 1784, their social responsibility compass has always been pointed firmly in the right direction.

To mark their 235th year in business (making them the longest standing knitwear manufacturer in the world!) John Smedley have released The Legacy Collection, solely composed of three British fibres. The combination of sheep, alpaca and Guanaco wools not only reduces the company's carbon footprint by sourcing closer to home, as opposed to their usual New Zealander suppliers, but the processes producing these fibres are considerably more virtuous, “The British Guanaco is second only in the world to Vicuna in terms of softness and fineness, but it does not have any of the ethical concerns that can appear when using vicuna,” explains Jess McGuire-Dudley at Design Director John Smedley. “It is a high luxury and high ethics fibre, which we felt our consumers would really respond to.”

As the terms ‘ethical’ and ‘sustainable’ are woven into many brands' bios (despite any evidence of such efforts historically), trace-ability has become key to the environmentally and made-by-whom concerned consumer. “Trace-ability has always been important to John Smedley” McGuire-Dudley says, “For 235 we wanted to bring this even more to the forefront and create a truly British story of end to end trace-ability that consumers could really understand and respond to.” And the proof is on the tag. Each piece from the collection sports a 235 Legacy Swing Ticket, which shares the journey of that knit, tracing as far back as to the exact animal the wool was produced from. While the products travel journey for this collection, from sheep to store, is only 90 miles, the brand is still on a mission to champion sustainability. “This year we are focusing on eradicating all unnecessary plastics from our brand, and have already been successful in removing this from our swing tags, button bags and other areas,” Explains McGuire-Dudley , “we're also shortly moving to a sugar cane, carbon neutral, fully recyclable garment bag from early 2020, which will remove the last piece of plastic from our garment packaging.”

Despite the John Smedley empire expanding to the many corners of the world - a new store is due to open in Kyoto in April 2020 - the brand’s passion for promoting British craftsmanship is still highly apparent. “At John Smedley, there are many traditional techniques used to this day, one of my favourites is that every neckline is cut by hand, and our ladies who are qualified for this role (the top lady being Jane who has just celebrated her 50 year tenure with us) hand cut up to 7,000 garments per week.” McGuire-Dudley shares.

A global British brand who is continually striving to be more sustainable, values British craft and animals while also creating beautifully designed knits we want to wear? If any wool is going to be pulled over our eyes, let it be John Smedley

Shop other John Smedley collections below: