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Discover what made the future: Paul Smith

Sir Paul Smith’s clothing is recognisable through its eccentricity and unique design. The bright pink store in Los Angeles on Melrose Boulevard is a perfect example of the blend between extravagant and sophisticated design that Smith has become so loved for. Many of the stores have their own unique appearance.

Smith was born in Nottingham, England in 1946 and, until about the age of 17, was convinced that he was going to be a professional cyclist. He left school at 15 to work and cycle but a serious accident in his 17th year put him in hospital for 6 months and marked the end of his potential career in cycling. While recovering he was introduced to the world of art and fashion by friends and was inspired to take up tailoring.

In 1970 he started his own shop, Paul Smith “Vetement Pour Homme”, which simply translates to Men’s Clothing…. but a bit of French sophistication didn’t hurt. Smith started by selling established brands alongside his own brands, likely with the intention of bringing more credibility to them. At 3m2, his first store was only a little bigger than a small bathroom but it was his. He became known on the world stage after gaining popularity at a showcase in Paris in 1976 and three years later opened his main London store. Since opening a store in Tokyo in 1984 Japan has become one of the countries with the most stores, currently at 165.

Smith only branched out into women’s clothing in 1993 after he heard that women were opting to buy smaller sized men’s clothes so they could still wear his clothing. In 1995 Smith was exhibited at the Design Museum under the showcase name ‘True Brit’. Following his designation as a Royal Designer for Industry in 1991, a title only 200 designers can hold at any one time, he was also knighted in 2000.

A 1965 Porsche 911 was covered with his signature multicoloured stripe design in collaboration with James Turner and competed at the Le Mans Classic and Goodwood Festival of Speed.

His first book, ‘You Can Find Inspiration in Everything’, was published in 2001.

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