Sir Paul Smith, a pillar of the London design scene and a veteran designer has built a global British brand that now has twelve lines, including ready-to-wear for men and women, a denim line, a watch line, accessories, shoes and fragrances. He has granted a number of licenses and has collaborated with Rapha, Maharam and Cappellini.
Known for his distinctive multi coloured striped visual signature the designer cannily combines classic silhouettes and tailoring with unexpected, and visually arresting flourishes and finishes. The designer has flagships in London, Paris, New York, Milan and Tokyo, along with a host of further stores.
Smith had originally intended to be a cyclist; his first job in the industry was in a clothing warehouse in which he had no interest, the only enjoyable aspect of the job being the cycle to and from work.
During a six-month stay in hospital, due to a cycling accident, Smith made new friends who, upon their recovery, introduced him to a pub which was at the time popular with art and design students. It was here that Smith decided he wanted to be part of the creative world and become a fashion designer.
Smith started to take evening classes for tailoring with Gordon Valentine Tipton in Nottinghamshire who showed him how to cut cloth as well as the basics. Later on Paul Smith joined Lincroft Kilgour in Savile Row after being spotted by BFC chairman Harold Tillman, where his designs were worn by celebrities including footballer George Best.
With the help of his then girlfriend, now wife, Pauline Denyer, who was an Royal College of Art fashion graduate, and a small amount of savings, he managed to open his first shop 10 Byard Lane, Nottingham in 1970. In 1976 Smith debuted his first menswear collection in Paris, under the Paul Smith label. In 1998 Paul showed his first women's collection at London Fashion Week, the women's mainline collection continues to this day.