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Icons of the Exchange: Smythson

Why Smythson’s time-honoured diaries are the perfect companions for planning and documenting your day-to-day

Smythson diary

In a world where digital communication and notifications constantly infiltrate our lives from morning until night, there is something refreshing and cathartic about collecting your thoughts, consolidating those important reminders, and putting them down on paper.

At luxury British leather goods brand Smythson, the magic of putting pen to paper to organise your daily schedule lives on, thanks to its beautiful handcrafted diaries, which have been a signature product ever since founder Frank Smythson opened his first boutique on Bond Street in 1887, providing ‘stationery and fancy articles of a high-class character’.

Holding over 130 years of expertise between their covers, Smythson’s diaries have enjoyed enduring popularity throughout the brand’s history. A vast collection is available today – in all shapes, sizes and colours – including the popular and durable Panama diary collection, launched in 2013 but inspired by Frank Smythson’s first Panama diary from 1908.

The brand’s popularity has been helped along, in part, by its associations with worlds of style, glamour and influence. In the 1940s and 50s, the Smythson diary became synonymous with the jet-set lifestyle, thanks to illustrious English stage and film actress Vivien Leigh being an avid user of them; along with other distinguished customers at the time such as Katharine Hepburn, Grace Kelly, and Sir Hardy Amies. And in the 1990s, Smythson launched its first fashion diary – the ideal accessory for fashion professionals and enthusiasts, with its pre-marked key fashion calendar dates.

Smythson diary Smythson’s pale blue Featherweight paper can hold the ink of a fountain pen, despite being half the thickness and weight of normal paper

But what makes a Smythson diary so exceptional?

‘Whether it’s a diary, leather bag or jewellery box, Smythson pieces are intended to be lifelong companions,’ explains Smythson’s Creative Director, Luc Goidadin. Every detail is thought through, such as the hand-stitched spine of our notebooks, which lies flat no matter which page you’re on. It’s features such as these that make using beautifully crafted pieces such an enduring pleasure.’

It’s true that, from the mini Wafer Diary to the medium-size Soho Diary with Pocket (pictured), up to the larger-than-A4 W1 Diary, the meticulously considered details of every Smythson diary highlights the quality of the craftsmanship required to make it. For example, the pale blue Featherweight paper contained in all Smythson’s diaries is half the thickness and weight of normal paper, but each page is rigorously tested to ensure it can hold even a fountain pen’s ink. What’s more, a unique feather and globe watermark is visible when a page is held up to the light, so a genuine Smythson can always be easily identified.

The luxurious leather finishes are also carefully selected, including the Mara leather, which is set apart by its polished, crocodile-embossed finish, and the Ludlow leather, which is characterised by a soft, supple feel and larger grain.

To make your diary uniquely yours, or a personalised gift, Smythson’s skilled artisans will emboss the cover of any diary with a chosen design – from a playful motif or a nickname, to elegant initials – stamped in classic gold leaf.

Smythson diary personalisation Add a personal touch to a Smythson diary with a motif or initials embossed in gold leaf

More practical features of the diaries include handy page markers crafted from grosgrain ribbon, allowing you to promptly find the right page and never lose your place again, and the first few pages being dedicated to a variety of useful lists, from important dates and conversion charts, to notable cultural sites around the world.

With every detail considered, from the practical to the aesthetic, whatever style of Smythson diary you choose, you can be confident it will enhance your day-to-day planning and documenting pleasure throughout the year.

Smythson diaries start from £39; smythson.com

The Royal Exchange celebrates its 450th anniversary this year. Our Icons of the Exchange series pays homage to the exceptional array of retailers that call The Royal Exchange home, with a look at the heritage, design and craftsmanship of products that epitomise the essence and excellence of our celebrated brands.

We look forward to welcoming you to The Royal Exchange during 2021, for a considered shopping experience in spectacular and historic surroundings. Please visit our boutiques page for regular updates on our retailers’ opening information and hours, as well as details about virtual appointments and click and collect services.

Visit our heritage page to learn more about the history of The Royal Exchange and keep an eye on our 450 Years site, journal and Instagram for more fascinating facts and insights about its past and present as we commemorate this special milestone throughout the year ahead.