Sitting on the banks of the River Lossie in Scotland is one of the last vertical woollen mills in Britain. It has been there since 1797, overseeing all the processes from raw material to finished article – ‘goat to garment’. As Alan Scott, creative director, says, ‘Johnstons has sourced, washed, dried, milled, spun, woven, finished and produced the garments in a truly vertical process. Our mill is one of the very few left in the world to do this.’ And it has been doing it for over 220 years.

A family-run business that received the Royal Warrant of Appointment to His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales in 2013, the brand’s production happens in two mills, in Elgin and Hawick. The accessories, knitwear, woven fabrics and cashmere throws that emerge feature at the couture houses and on the catwalks of London, Paris and Milan, in Savile Row and the world at large. There are three shops in Scotland but the flagship store is in the very heart of London’s luxury international fashion quarter at 77 New Bond Street and their stock of cashmere goods are available worldwide.

Johnstons of Elgin is known and appreciated globally for its impeccable credentials arising from the highly skilled textile craftspeople at its heart.

Some of its 1,000-strong staff have clocked up almost 50 years’ service. A thriving apprenticeship scheme on both sites ensures an ongoing nurturing of talent and the company’s investment in its future.

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The Spring/Summer 2019 collection showcases year-round product innovation and technology, which uses their signature fabric, quality, craft, design and tailoring. It employs whole garment technology giving easy-to-wear seamless pieces such as polo shirts and super lightweight knits, ultra-fine jacquard weaving of merino, silk and tissue-weight cashmere accessories that are light but sumptuously soft. It has also introduced some fashionable and super-lightweight accessories, sport-inspired styles in new double face fabrics. Pastel shades have been inspired by the Mediterranean, all culminating in year-round appeal for this global brand.

The brand’s story is told in its 90-year-old ‘woodcut’ logo, designed by ES Harrison, a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, shortly after he bought the company from Charles Johnston in 1920. The J for Johnston paid credit to the great innovators in the family who brought the first cashmere to Britain and received a medal for their ‘superb vicuña stoles’ at the Great Exhibition of London in 1851. The thistle represents a commitment to their intention always to manufacture in Scotland; the bee perhaps reflecting the hard work and skill of their workers.

This emphasis on community, provenance, art and the mixture of the best of old and new, is as important today as it ever was.

No surprise that the woodcut was brought back into use five years ago. It had never disappeared entirely from the mill, having been immortalised in stained glass windows and carved wooden handrails in the buildings themselves. It remains a fitting symbol of the company’s global reputation
for heritage, craft, style and luxury.