Johnstons of Elgin

Unmade technology enables Scottish knitwear factory to make unique items on demand for the same unit cost as bulk-order production.

Client profile

Johnstons of Elgin: leading luxury knitwear manufacturers, who have been in business for over 200 years. Factory in Hawick, Scotland.

Scotland’s second-oldest family-run business knows survival depends on delivering the ever-changing needs of the marketplace.

Johnstons of Elgin have been in business for over 200 years, we’re constantly asking ourselves what the next 200 years will look like.
David Hamilton, Johnstons of Elgin, Operations Director
We’re seeing consumer demands change. Our customers are demanding shorter and shorter runs, and Unmade is leading the kind of innovation the industry needs to adapt to these changes and build for the future.
David Hamilton, Johnstons of Elgin, Operations Director


The luxury market has seen a shift from big production runs to smaller, more bespoke jobs and ever-shorter lead times in recent years. But one-off orders are more complex to manufacture. Reprogramming industrial knitting machines requires technical knowledge and is time and labour intensive. Johnstons wanted to remove this burden on the production line.

Our solution needed to:

work on their existing production line meet their lead times be easy for employees to use keep track of unique garments throughout manufacture.


The Unmade order management system enables unique knitwear to be produced at an industrial scale for the same cost as mass production. Our order management system sends the exact manufacturing instructions from online consumer orders with a partner to Johnstons of Elgin’s factory. Employees do not need to get involved.

The patented technology:

  • generates machine-ready knit files for each order
  • groups knitting jobs by colour and material, and allocates them to machines
  • groups customised orders with bulk production jobs to increase – throughput and reduce changeovers
  • tracks unique products through the factory
  • collates associated paperwork automatically throughout the process
  • ensures bespoke orders are shipped from the factory straight to customers within 3 weeks
Johnstons reputation as a world-leading manufacturer of luxury knitwear, and their mastery of traditional techniques combined with their investment in cutting-edge technology, meant they were the ideal business to be Unmade’s first manufacturing partner.
Hal Watts, Unmade CEO