The History of Paul Smith

With over 50 years in the industry, we discover the history into what made Paul Smith the iconic British designer he is today. 

Paul Smith is a label that has become synonymous with classic British tailoring and style. Inspired by the traditional British menswear he admired as a young boy - such as his brother's Post Office shirts and the tweeds of the Nottinghamshire country set - Smith's greatest attribute is simplicity. He has described his designs as "well-made, good quality, simple cut, interesting fabric, easy to wear" and often add a splash of vibrant color, a floral print or his signature multi-colored stripes.

Paul Smith designer - open the firs shop
Born in 1946 in Nottingham, England, Smith's childhood ambition was to become a professional racing cyclist. He left school at 15 with no qualifications and began working in a Nottingham clothing warehouse as an errand boy. He relished his cycle to and from the warehouse each day until aged 17 he was in a serious accident and sustained injuries that put an end to his racing ambitions. Six months in hospital followed, during which Smith made friends with people from the local art college who would introduce him to the world of art and fashion.

The Paul Smith Line time

- 1961 -

PAUL SMITH LEAVES SCHOOL

Paul Smith left school aged 15 with the ambition to become a professional racing cyclist.

 

- 1963 -

THE START OF SOMETHING NEW

Aged 17 Paul suffered a near-fatal bike accident, which resulted in him spending six months in hospital. During this time, he made friends with people from the local art college who introduced him to the world of fashion.

 

- 1970 -

THE FIRST BOUTIQUE IS OPENED

Aged 24, he opened his very first store in his hometown of Nottingham with the help of his girlfriend (now wife) Pauline Denyer. This was the first small store outside of London to stock major fashion brands such as Kenzo and Margaret Howell. During this time, Smith took tailoring classes that would help shape his future designs.

 Paul Smith first boutique

- 1976 -

THE FIRST MENSWEAR COLLECTION

The designer showed his first menswear collection in Paris under his own name. This was the start of something new and exciting for the brand.

- 1979 -

THE FIRST PAUL SMITH STORE OPENS

In the heart of London's Covent Garden on Floral Street, Paul opened his first store which is still there today. By 1987 he had opened four stores including one in New York.

 

- 1990 -

PAUL SMITH LAUNCHES A CHILDREN'S COLLECTION

The designer ventured into childrenswear, creating both casual and tailored pieces for little boys in a one-off collection.

 

- 1993 -

PAUL SMITH LAUNCHES A WOMENSWEAR LINE

After discovering that 15% of customers buying his pieces were women, he decided to launch his first womenswear collection keeping his classic modern cuts, but with a more feminine edge.

 

- 2000 -

PAUL SMITH RECEIVES A KNIGHTHOOD

Receiving a knighthood in honor of his work, Sir Paul Smith became only the second-ever fashion designer to receive such an accolade. He also married his partner of thirty years, Pauline on the very same day.

- 1979 -

THE FIRST PAUL SMITH STORE OPENS

In the heart of London's Covent Garden on Floral Street, Paul opened his first store which is still there today. By 1987 he had opened four stores including one in New York.

- 1990 -

PAUL SMITH LAUNCHES A CHILDREN'S COLLECTION

The designer ventured into childrenswear, creating both casual and tailored pieces for little boys in a one-off collection.

 

- 1993 -

PAUL SMITH LAUNCHES A WOMENSWEAR LINE

After discovering that 15% of customers buying his pieces were women, he decided to launch his first womenswear collection keeping his classic modern cuts, but with a more feminine edge.

 

- 2000 -

PAUL SMITH RECEIVES A KNIGHTHOOD

Receiving a knighthood in honor of his work, Sir Paul Smith became only the second-ever fashion designer to receive such an accolade. He also married his partner of thirty years, Pauline on the very same day.

- 2006 -

THE SIGNATURE STRIPE

The iconic striped print was intended to only be around for one season, however, due to its popularity, it has become a staple in his designs. It has been reinvented a number of times in different colors but is most recognizable in the original bright rainbow shades.

Paul Smith signature stripe

 

- 2010 -

PAUL SMITH JUNIOR IS BORN

After 10 years away from children's fashion, Smith launched a childrenswear brand for both boys and girls. The focus behind the new brand was to take bright and punchy designs and combine them with inspiration from his main collections to create a line for babies and children.

Packed with vibrant designs and mini-me inspiration, the boys-only collection is for little gentlemen who love fashion. Combines color, stripe, and playful prints. Staying true to the designer’s guiding principle of ‘classic with a twist’, Paul Smith Junior references the mainline collection, bringing color and cool to dapper little ones. Eclectic and decidedly British at heart, the brand cleverly straddles the line between high fashion and formalwear and tradition and modernity. For boys, Paul Smith Junior plays on the same humorous designs that make Paul Smith’s adult collections. Skinny trousers for boys alongside mini dandy jackets and T-shirts, pullovers, shirts, and sweatshirts in iconic prints. And because there's no minimum age for being a 'Paul Smith addict', the Paul Smith Junior range is available for newborns with bright stylish baby clothes and accessories.

Paul Smith junior

- 2016 TO PRESENT -

PAUL SMITH CELEBRATES A LANDMARK

In July 2016, Sir Paul Smith turned 70 and celebrates over half a century as one of the most iconic British menswear designers in history. 

 

Known for his positive outlook on business and life, Smith has become a key figure of the British fashion industry. Although he is an internationally celebrated fashion artist nowadays, Smith is known to have remained very much down to earth. He frequently visits his shops, talks to customers, and learns about his clientele's needs.

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