Recent Finds: Deadstock Laurence J Smith (Laurence Odie) 5 Ply Cashmere ‘Shetland’

Today was one of those glorious autumn days, crisp clear air and brilliant blue sky. Perfect day for suede jackets and corduroy jeans, so I decided to head to John Simons to fulfil my latest part in the transatlantic ivy exchange with Fred in LA. He’d ordered a bunch of stuff from JSA and I usually pick it up and ship to him in return for similar activity on the other side of the Atlantic.

Shetland Style knitted crew neck

The only problem with this recently has been the influx of too many really great items in the store. Today I walked in and got mugged. It was a Monty Python kind of mugging, with John and Paul in a Doug and Dinsdale style with me nodding and agreeing to the mugging. I say this only because despite the much anticepated new oxford shirts arriving, I had decided categorically to go in and out without buying a single item after the J Keydge splurge earlier this month.

The problem is when entering the shop and faced with John, Paul and Shirley emptying a carton just arrived from yonder Shetland Isles, in which can be found five (only five, no more EVER) heavy 5 ply cashmere sweaters hand framed (and knitted on the Isles in the style of the traditional Shetland much loved by Ivy enthusiasts), what resistance is there? The supplier had found five packets of these cashmere sweaters languishing in their stock room. Sweaters that more than ten years ago were £250 a piece from the wholesaler…

Having spent a great deal of time and effort in recent times (like a number of others online) to find a decent tubular knit Shetland wool sweater in proper chest sizes, I thought my luck was in when Oi Polloi got their Jamieson’s delivery last week. Except someone at OP listed the navy as alpha sizes and literally by the time they responded to my email asking if it was a mistake, they’d sold out of every colour!

The legend reads: Knitted in the Shetland Isles by Laurence J Smith

Fortuitously, it now seems. For otherwise how to justify the purchase of this bottle green cashmere beauty?

Marked a 42″, like other Shetlands it comes up a size smaller. John had already put one aside for Fred, but there was another, also in bottle green – my colour of choice too.

Trying it on with my vintage sand Levi’s cords, a deadstock Sero plaid flannel and cola desert boots, there was no contest. It passed the ‘looks like I came in the shop already wearing it’ test with flying colours. I think Mrs Weejun may have just found what to buy me for Christmas (she doesn’t know it yet though).

Laurence J Smith is the old name for the company that is now named Laurence Odie. Anyone who has tried finding traditional Shetlands in the last few years will know they are the preferred maker of J Press Shaggy Dogs as well as supplier of the amazing colour pallette of O’Connells, and The Andover Shop and Cable Car Clothiers, too – all legendary outfitters.

This is one special sweater, of a kind that once upon a time (before the entire Outer Mongolia became a cashmere battery farm) could be found easily in any number of old school English outfitters or the likes of Westaway and Westaway, but no more. In fact, these days I normally eschew cashmere as it’s really hard to find the good stuff. What was once for the wealthy is now for the likes of Primark and GAP. But not this beauty.

Shetland Style Cuffs and Waistband but in FIVE ply Scottish Cashmere!

Would that I got mugged this way more often! To paraphrase Doug and Dinsdale Piranha’s victim Stig O’Tracey said in the Python sketch, “I had transgressed the unwritten law”! That of walking into the shop whilst vintage stock was being unloaded and expecting to escape unscathed.

Mucho thanks to John and Paul – am honoured indeed…


    1. Thanks, but it meant I didn’t even dare look at the rest of the sweaters in the box. This one doesn’t have saddle shoulders, but it doesn’t have cut and sewn seams either – the body tube is somehow invisibly closed on the shoulders. Amazing. John said the regular shetlands are the same…

  1. Fantastic looking sweater. I didn’t realize the regular shetlands were also in……………just when you think the wallet is safe for a while………

  2. And THAT’S why we all bang on about John Simons. Where else could this happen? It’s like the good old days in there at the moment – back to 1985! Amazing things to be found on a daily basis.

  3. How do you even find the deadstock NOS things? I’ve been searching for months, MONTHS, after a proper navy Shetland sweater. If you EVER wanna part from one, let me know.

    Love your site. Your tumblr is a great source of inspiration!

    1. Apologies Sancho, some hackers got into the site and I lost a lot of comments and other stuff. Thanks for your kind words!

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