When ambling around the tranquil surrounds of John Smedley's Derbyshire factory in the heart of the British countryside, it's difficult to fathom that this is one of the buildings that heralded the beginning of the Industrial Revolution when it was founded in 1784. But for Mr Ian Maclean, managing director of the label and a member of the family that owns the storied British brand, there's no reason not to be industrious even in the most pastoral of places - as the manufacture of John Smedley knits always starts with the finest of nature's raw materials.
"If you don't start with the best materials," explains Mr Maclean, "you're never going to end up with a great garment. Even the spring water we have in the area is integral to producing dyes that are very colourfast, so the performance of the garment is excellent when you're washing or using it." This makes the brand's signature items, from V-neck sweaters in various hues to dapper knitted polo shirts, true investment pieces.
Alongside the materials used, it's the expert craftspeople that work at John Smedley that make the final product so remarkable. From designing innovative knit patterns to time-honed construction techniques handed down through generations by specialised artisans, there is significant skill employed in every aspect of a sweater's manufacture.
We like to think of a piece of John Smedley knitwear as a little piece of England: at once idyllic and forward thinking, quietly luxurious but colourful when it wants to be, and possessing a history rich with tradition.