About Paul Smith
Sir Paul Smith was knighted in 2000, after nearly three decades as a menswear icon. His collections of clothing and accessories for both men and women are usually identified by the presence of Smith's multistripe signature somewhere on each item.
Smith left school at the age of 15; a member of Beeston Road Club his only ambition was to become a racing cyclist until his father hauled him off to work at a clothing warehouse. Smith had no real interest in his work during his first two years there except for the cycle journey to and from his home. A terrible cycling accident put an end to his cycling ambitions, and it was only then that Smith's career in fashion design began. Six months in hospital followed and during this time Smith made some new friends. After leaving hospital he arranged to meet them all at a local pub that was popular with art students. It was then that Paul Smith knew he wanted to be part of this colourful world of ideas and excitement.
Smith started to take evening classes for tailoring, and joined Lincroft Kilgour in Savile Row after being spotted by Chairman Harold Hillman, 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 RCA fashion graduate, and a small amount of savings, he managed to open his first shop 10 Byard Lane, Nottingham in 1970. By 1976 Paul showed his first menswear collection in Paris, under the Paul Smith label. He gradually expanded the retail business, being the first fashion brand to open on Floral St. in London’s Covent Garden in 1979, where his shop offered an eclectic combination of clothes and 'finds' for men which reflected his own magpie personality.
The international growth of his business began most famously in Japan, where his British designs have been particularly popular, while he simultaneously expanded into three adjacent stores on Floral St. A converted town-house in Notting Hill, London opened in 1998 and is now his flagship shop, with the company's operational heart remaining between Nottingham and London. In 1998 Paul showed his first women's collection at London Fashion Week, the women's mainline collection continues to this day.
Most recently, Smith has opened shops in Dubai, Bangalore, Leeds, Antwerp, Los Angeles and another shop in London, in addition to a brand new warehouse building in Nottingham.
Smith remains fully involved in the business; designing clothes, choosing fabrics, approving the shop locations and overseeing every development within the company. Paul Smith also has impressive and diverse showrooms in London, Paris, Milan, New York and Tokyo.
The success of Smith's business may be attributed to his understanding of his dual roles of both designer and retailer; the success of his designs to his combination of the classic and the quirky and which allows men to buy relatively traditional (and hence commercially popular) designs that offer a 'twist' of individuality.