Most people have heard of British designer Paul Smith but not many know a lot about him. His work in fashion has earned him a knighthood and as such he is now known as Sir Paul. The man behind the famous brand has a unique story which is just as special as his famous designs.
Born in 1947 in the Nottinghamshire, Paul left school at 16 and started a simple warehouse job at a clothing company and with no career plans or qualifications, he was destined for a life of mediocrity. His one true passion was for cycling but when he suffered a serious accident this quashed any plans to take that dream further too. It was on his release from hospital nearly 6 months later that he indulged himself in a new lifestyle and subsequently found a passion for culture; crucially he transferred this to clothing.
Starting with one miniature store in Nottingham, 1970, Smith took night-classes to train in tailoring and as a result he enabled himself to start making his own creations. Just 6 years further down the line he debuted his first collection in Paris and has yet to look back since that day.
Paul has maintained a close interest in cycling, befriending and designing suits for the likes of Chris Froome and Bradley Wiggins, whilst also designing the race jerseys for 2013’s Giro d’Italia. His brand also work in partnership with savvy cycling wear producers Rapha to produce specialised jerseys.
Today, there are 14 different Paul Smith collections- all still produced primarily in Britain- and despite a vast number of selling points in retail, the stand-alone stores are much more elusive and there are in fact more in Japan than anywhere else, a place he has long had a fascination with. Each individual Paul Smith store has its own unique characteristic, for example the ones in Tokyo and LA both have cultural reference points to the nation. Paul Smith’s large presence in Japan relates to the strong consumer appetite for specialist designer products, all of which has developed on the backdrop of economic growth in the country.
Wholesaled in 66 countries, this is a truly global brand and yet most interestingly, Paul Smith himself is still the heartbeat of the organization; he acts as a designer and a chairman, always involved in the day-to-day running of the business unlike other designer labels of a similar stature. This personal touch is a rare breath of fresh air in the industry, convincing his loyal clientèle that his ideas will never be diluted by mass marketing. Therefore, Smith has achieved the notoriously difficult feat of balancing critical acclaim with commercial success.
Below: each store has its own unique personality, like the extrovert pink store in LA
As we have already established Paul Smith is a brand which achieves a personal rapport with consumers despite its huge size. His products are famous for being traditionally crafted but with the use of his cutting edge and free-thinking design spirits. As such it is recognized that his products contain an air of understated class and he has gained notoriety through his use of multi-coloured stripes amongst other traits. Despite his international reputation as an “artist of fashion” he still remains true to his humble beginnings, regularly visiting his stores and speaking to customers for fresh insight.
Below: the Paul Smith stripes became so famous that he had his design made into a limited edition Mini Cooper- the model sold out in no time
His ever evolving style and flair for designing clothes continues into SS14 as his latest collection features more original designs, this time with a recurring theme of soft fabrics, brightly printed t-shirts and contemporary washed denim for a casual and relaxed look. The Paul Smith Jeans range is a cut off from the main Paul Smith label which is an easy-to-wear collection designed for the everyday man.
Here are our picks of the latest Paul Smith Jeans products: