Our Timeline - Since 1797
Alexander Johnston established the Elgin Mill on the banks of the river Lossie over two centuries ago, founding a legacy of fine craft and exquisite fabric.
By 1810, Johnstons of Elgin had quickly and firmly established themselves as a leader in the wool industry. Estate Tweeds, which were popularised by Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, became coveted fabrics which we still produce to this day in our Elgin mill.
The Industrial Revolution was the transition to new manufacturing processes in the period from about 1760 to sometime between 1820 and 1840. Hand power was being replaced by machines, and working conditions were improving.
1850sThe 1850s were exceptionally significant to our Johnstons of Elgin story, with James Johnston introducing exotic fibres to the business – which led to the purchasing of our first bale of Cashmere from a London supplier. The newly opened train line connecting London and Elgin, was a significant improvement for transporting raw fibre in and finished goods out to market.
The Great exhibition 1851 By 1851 we were pioneering the weaving of Cashmere and Vicuna in Scotland, which led to exhibiting at the Great Exhibition in London. Johnstons of Elgin were awarded a medal for “Superb Vicuna Shawls”. Throughout the 1850s we showed our products at various exhibitions, and are awarded prizes in excellence – this led to our pieces being exported across the globe.
James Johnston and family photographed during the 1890s. Since our founding in 1797, Johnstons of Elgin has been owned by two families. The Johnstons for the first 4 generations and now the Harrisons, since 1920.
EDWARD HARRISON Worker Donald Williams, Pattern Shop, said of Edward Harrison – “He was keenly interested in everything. He was one of those people who was always ready to experiment and it was this willingness which helped the firm in the 1920s at the height of the depression.” The invention of the motor car brought the production of our ‘Motor Rug’ – proudly being shown to the Prime Minister Ramsay MacDonald.
FIRE AT THE MILL, 1954 The 1900s also brought many challenges to our mill, but we are proud to say that we have survived two World Wars, floods and fire.
After the end of the war our manufacturing concentrated firmly on fashion – with the design and production of fine cashmere and woollen accessories. Our mill was visited by the leading fashion journalists of the time, including Vogue and the Sunday Times.
1970sOur company expanded with investment into knitwear production in Hawick, the Scottish borders. We advertised to promote our tweeds, accessories and garments to trade.
In 1980 we opened our knitwear factory in Hawick, the heart of Scottish knitwear, with a staff of 8. 40 years later we are the largest independent employer in the town, with a staff of approximately 300.
1981 - Johnstons of Elgin open our first retail store in Elgin, which has been visited by members of the Royal Family throughout the years, as well as Prime Ministers.
In anticipation of our bi-centenary celebrations, the book ‘Scottish Estate Tweeds’ is first published.
Born in 1918 Ned Harrison worked at Johnstons of Elgin all his life with the exception of the years during the Second World War. Researching the Johnstons' records he became keenly interested in the history of Estate Tweeds and in this he follows his late father Edward Harrison who created the parent of this book and ran Johnstons of Elgin for forty-six years from 1920-66. Ned Harrison was himself Chairman and Managing Director of Johnstons from 1966-78. His daughter Heather took many of the photographs of the outstanding mill buildings at Johnstons which are reproduced in this book.
2006 Our retail store in St Andrews opens.
Our Courtyard visitors centre
and shop opens in Elgin.
Hawick visitor centre and retail
THE ROYAL WARRANT Johnstons of Elgin were proud to be granted with the Royal Warrant of Appointment to the Duke of Rothesay, as manufacturers of Estate Tweed woollen fabric.
HRH THE PRICE OF WALES, DUKE OF ROTHESAY
MANUFACTURERS OF ESTATE TWEED WOOLLEN FABRIC
JOHNSTONS OF ELGIN
December 2015 - Our flagship store opens at 77 New Bond Street, London showcasing our fine cashmere and woollen knitwear, accessories and home interior ranges.
Our current brand logo is taken from a design produced in the 1930s by Edward Harrison. The ‘J’ represents the Johnston name and our core values since 1797. The Thistle represents Scotland, the home of our two mills in Elgin and Hawick. The Bee is the symbol of our craftsmen and women, who use the latest technology to make every Johnstons of Elgin piece a timeless classic.
LONDON FASHION WEEK Friday 16th February 2018 - Johnstons of Elgin hosted its very first presentation at London Fashion Week to an international audience. The brand made its debut in central London presenting 15 womenswear and 5 menswear looks. Under the stewardship of Creative Director Alan Scott, Johnstons of Elgin’s Autumn / Winter 2018 collection is a statement of British luxury and original provenance. The collection marks a new chapter for the brand as it brings its wealth of textile expertise and classic traditions to the modern woman.
NEW EDINBURGH FLAGSHIP STORE April 2019 - We opened a new flagship store in Scotland’s capital. Located on Multrees Walk, Edinburgh’s luxury shopping quarter, our new space is over two floors and will house the latest womenswear, menswear and homeware collections.
OUR HISTORY FILM