Her Royal Highness The Princess Royal and Sir Tim Laurence were welcomed by Managing Director and 8th generation family member, Ian Maclean alongside Marketing & Design Director, Jess Mcguire-Dudley, before being introduced to key delegates from John Smedley’s partners in Japan including Mitsui & Co Ltd, the BIGI group and Lea Mills Agency.

Upon entering the store, Her Royal Highness was presented with details of the brand’s 235th anniversary collection featuring only British fibres by Mrs Jess Mcguire-Dudley. The 3-fibre collection crafted from British Sheep, Alpaca and Guanaco which offers complete transparency across the entire supply chain, was extremely well received as a representation of high quality, British craftsmanship at its best.

Following this, The Princess Royal and her party were led to the second floor of the store where Mrs Kayo Saito, one of 10 ambassadors of British craftsmanship from the Queen Elizabeth Scholarship Trust, that are being championed by John Smedley for the 235 campaign, was able to showcase her work as a Goldsmith via finished jewellery and insight into her craft process.

Mr Maclean then shared insights into the brand’s over 100 year history of partnership with Japan, and showcased several of the oldest items from the John Smedley archive including a set of Long Johns created for the Emperor of Japan and a special cardigan designed to be worn beneath a traditional Kimono both of which are from the 1930’s -1950’s period of manufacturing.

Mr Maclean alongside Mr Takeuchi CEO of Lea Mills Agency, then shared details of the brand’s upcoming expansion plans in Japan including the newly opened Futako Tamagawa store, and new retail concepts due to launch in 2020 across Japan including the historic area of Kyoto.

Speaking of the visit, Ian Maclean stated “At John Smedley we are very proud of our more than 100 year history of exporting fine knitwear to Japan. We have built up a strong and loyal customer base during this time. It is an honour to receive HRH Then Princess Royal at our flagship store in Ginza, Tokyo, at the launch of our newest knitwear collection for Autumn 2019. Our celebration of the best of British craftmanship, and British wools, will be supported by all the hard work of our distributors, Lea Mills Agency, and we look forward to helping them grow the market further in the future.”

Her Royal Highness The Princess Royal then unveiled a commemorative plaque to honour the occasion and gave a short speech to attendees, The Princess Royal stated;

“As President of the UK Fashion and Textile Association, I have been privileged to know John Smedley very well over the years, and I am delighted to be visiting the store in celebration of not only it’s 235 history but also the history of over 100 years of trading in Japan. The new products celebrating British craftsmanship are a fantastic showcase of the craft skills we must all fight to preserve, and their work with the QEST scholars such as Ms Kayo Saito show their commitment to other forms of British craft, which is extremely admirable.”

The Princess Royal and Sir Tim Laurence were then both gifted John Smedley items including the Icon scarf, a donation to RDA Japan and the Bobby V-neck sweater.


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