How does somebody become a brand?

Unlike any other fashion designer at work today, Paul Smith has managed to combine a flair for eccentric detail with a dedication to the highest standards of craftsmanship that has made him one of the most successful fashion designers in British history.

Paul Smith, RDI, (born in Beeston, Nottinghamshire on 5 July 1946) is an English fashion designer, whose business and reputation is founded upon his menswear. He is both commercially successful and highly respected within the fashion industry. Smith fell into fashion design when as an out-of-work teenager his father forced him to become a runner in a local clothing warehouse in his native Nottingham.

His real passion was sport and his ambition was to become a professional racing cyclist, until aged 17 years when he was in a terrible accident. Six months in hospital followed and during this time he made some new friends. After leaving hospital he arranged to meet them again at a local pub that was popular with the students from the local art college. They talked of Mondrian, Warhol, Kokoshka, David Bailey and listened to the Rolling Stones, Miles Davis… It was then Paul Smith knew he wanted to be a part of this colorful world of ideas and excitement. Within two years, he was managing his first boutique in Nottingham and with the encouragement of his girlfriend Pauline Denyer (now wife) and a small amount of savings, opened a tiny store in 1970. He started to take evening classes for tailoring and with the help of Pauline (an RCA fashion graduate), he was able to create what he wanted. In 1976, just six years after opening his first shop, he showed his first collection on the Paris runways under the Paul Smith label.

Knighted by Queen Elizabeth II in 2000, after nearly three decades as a menswear icon, Paul Smith collections for both men and women are usually identified by the presence of his multistripe signature somewhere on each item. Designed in Nottingham and London, the Paul Smith collections are primarily produced in England and Italy while the fabrics used are mainly of Italian, French and British origin.

Today, his fashion empire includes eight shops in London, as well as locations in New York, San Francisco, Paris, Milan, and Asia – including over 200 stores in Japan. His flare for retailing includes a mélange of products: clothing, china, perfume, a collection of furniture for Capellini, and, a monograph – Paul Smith: You Can Find Inspiration in Everything*: (*and if you can’t, look again!).

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