“I don’t have an email address and I work as a store clerk on the weekends. I’m crazy? I hope so” – Corriere.it

Forget colored stripes, naked women on the lining of jackets., polka dot socks. The secret of Paul Smith’s success lies here: “I don’t have an email address.” Really? “I don’t use email.” And it doesn’t end here. “No screens during my meetings,” he declares, gesturing broadly toward his office.. Mobile phones are banned and his exclusive kingdom in Covent Garden doesn’t even have a TV. In their place are piles of scattered objects, almost reaching to the ceiling and having nothing to do with fashion. There are boxes that automatically open and close so quickly that, to Smith’s surprise, it is impossible to put anything inside. “Useless box! Fantastic!” Mechanical fingers drum on the table (“to show that I’m bored”), and a cartoon character bangs his head against a brick wall (“when I’m really bored”). The room’s centerpiece is a framed note handwritten by his eight-year-old nephew that reads, “Paul is crazy.”.

“I hope my employees think I’m crazy.”

I ask him if his staff thinks he’s crazy too. “I really hope so,” he replies. But there is method to his madness. He believes that the world, and fashion in particular, has lost touch with reality. Collections come and go too quickly, due to social media, styles have become mere monkeys. and the boutiques are all standard. There are not enough fashionistas and, on the other hand, too many trainers. “I’m a dress shoe guy,” he says, pointing to his brown lace-ups. World influencers it’s a far cry from the fashion company Smith founded in 1970 in a damp room on a Nottingham backstreet with Pauline Denayer, his then girlfriend and now his wife. But he was not destined to become a fashion designer from the very beginning.

“I wanted to be like Gino Bartali”

As a child, he dreamed of becoming a professional cyclist, but a sports accident forced him to spend a long period in hospital due to broken bones. There he met new friends who introduced him to fashion students and aspiring creatives, at which point his career took a different direction. “The English are completely unique: funny, interesting, special,” Smith recalls remembering those days, but he could have used the same words to describe his wife Pauline Denayer. Denyer’s disgust with the modern world is even more pronounced than his own, so much so that he refuses to even own a mobile phone. When she met Smith, she already had two children, but no more were born from their union. Smith always did things his own way, in a unique and eccentric way. Designers (he doesn’t want to name names, but he has big names in mind) tend to follow the same social media feeds and see the same trends. Result? “The same collections in the same stores. It’s really disappointing that everyone wants to be so equal.”

Restoring observation skills

He intends to restore the “ability to observe” and that is why he has banned the use of screens during meetings. “I tell my team members the story of what I saw. I show them the book and say, “Look at the colors… Look at that turquoise next to that blue. Let’s use it as a color reference.”. I want them to not just look, but to see, to see something different in the real world, something that can’t be found anywhere else.” This approach means his brand is classic but also surprising and edgy, attracting “people who feel comfortable dressing individually, with a much more fun and adventurous style.”


– Paul Smith with David Bowie in 2002. They met in 1979 at Smith’s store in London. “We were both very curious people,” he said, “so the conversations ranged from astrology to architecture to photography to everything in between.”

His enduring popularity has helped him expand over the years, introducing lines of women’s clothing, fragrance and homewares and even creating a Paul Smith-themed suite at Brown’s Hotel in London. David Bowie, the eminent iconoclast, was among his early clients, and a portrait of the rock star adorns the wall of Smith’s office. “I knew him well”, Smith recalls. “Together we created the T-Shirts project for his latest album Blackstar. . The launch took place on the same day as his death. We talked to each other and the last thing he said to me was: “How are you, Smithy?” He called me Smithy. And I liked it.”

Among his fans are Paul McCartney and Kate Moss.

Paul McCartney and Kate Moss are also longtime fans, but it’s a new generation who particularly appreciates his style, as evidenced by actor Matt Smith, rapper Gucci Mane and model Gigi Hadid. Smith, in top form thanks to morning swims at the Royal Automobile Club in Pall Mall, can’t escape the fashion circus entirely, so he does his bit by releasing 16 collections a year and regularly selling out. His brilliant eye is attentive to the details of his creations, but he does not lose sight of profit. A look that is sometimes too shiny? He apologized for keeping the store in Russia open for another year after the invasion of Ukraine. But he doesn’t follow trends. Staying true to his classic style with a touch of originality allowed him not only to prosper, but also to become one of the few founders of a fashion house who managed to maintain control of his own brand, rather than selling it to large manufacturers. Conglomerates LVMH, Kering or Richemont. Another of them is Giorgio Armani, who remained true to his traditional classical aesthetics. “Our styles may be different, but consistency is a common virtue that Paul and I share,” Armani said..

Like a Clash album

Today Smith is as synonymous with British culture as a good cup of tea or a Clash album. And now his British soul is doubling down with a new collaboration with Mulberry to create a line of handbags for women and men, a project that has taken some time to come to fruition. Thierry Andretta, Mulberry’s CEO, tried to contact Smith several years ago, “but we didn’t get any response,” he recalls. (After all, perhaps Smith could use an email address.) Smith finally responded, and Andretta told him he would be honored to work “with an English gentleman.”


– Paul Smith in 1992. He is one of the most famous English designers of his generation. He dressed politicians such as Tony Blair, as well as rock stars, actors, businessmen, and students.

The limited-edition Mulberry x Paul Smith bags, based on Mulberry’s Antony shoulder bag, are stocked at major Smith stores, with a stock of 130 available., each of which is unique. “With in-house architects and interior designers, each store has its own character. Always British style, but each one is a little different.” Smith pioneered the ‘shops as destinations’ concept when he opened his first London store on Flower Street in Covent Garden in 1979.

What a horror it is to feel fashionable

Jony Ive, the former chief designer of Apple, likes to joke about his friend Smith: “Paul uses color extensively as if it’s going to be made illegal.”. The logos on the bags are so small that they are almost invisible. The proliferation of brands with logos horrifies Smith: “A logo is the most insidious way to sell your product. This completely plays on the insecurity of the customers. This is a symbol that says: “I am fashionable.” I’m rich. I have it. I have it” “. You might think 77-year-old Smith’s purely analogue worldview would be a guarantee of commercial failure in today’s digital market, but Paul Smith Ltd is doing well. Last year the company broke even with a turnover of £200 million, a welcome achievement given the turmoil the retail sector has experienced over the last two years.

Crisis and budget restoration

The results indicate something of a revival for the brand after profits plummeted to £2.1m after tax six years ago. Smith’s mistake was to step aside and hand the baton to the brand’s first creative director, Simon Homes, who had previously been in charge of the menswear sector. Without a “madman” in the engine room, the brand lost its fun spirit. The new team “kept things more minimalistic, and clients said, ‘Where’s the humor and the sense of wonder,'” Smith recalls. The suits, which start at £800 and are worn by women and men of all ages and sizes, continue to be his main source of income.

Polo shirt and sneakers to go with a suit

Suits? But now no one wears them anymore! “Bespoke suits are gaining popularity again,” insists Smith. “My recent exhibition in Paris was dedicated to rethinking the concept of costume.. Today, a suit can have a soft structure, be with or without padded shoulders, have drawstring trousers and be worn with a polo shirt and sneakers.” The designer still stocks the clothes in his Albemarle Street boutique in Mayfair, where he sometimes works on weekends. Clients ask him if he’s ever met Paul Smith. (He replies that “he heard he’s a good guy.”) I ask him where he goes shopping other than Paul Smith’s. “If I took her shopping, we would probably end up at a hardware store because I love those stores with lots of drawers. I would buy three bags of nails and a faucet, none of which I need.”

LIFE – He was born in Nottingham on July 5, 1946, left school at 15 and began working in a clothing department store. However, he does not think about fashion: his idol is Gino Bartali, and his dream is to become a cyclist. However, a serious accident that forces him to spend 6 months in bed forces him to change his plans.

FASHION – During his recovery, he met students at the Nottingham Institute of Art. He took tailoring classes and began working in Savile Row in London. In 1969, he met his future wife, Pauline Denyer: in 1970, she convinced him to open his first clothing store.

CAREER – In 1976, he presented his first men’s collection in Paris. The brand grows, and in 1987 the first store opens in New York. He was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II in 2000 and has been an honorary member of the Royal Institute of British Architects since 2007.
His company broke even last year with a turnover of £200 million, something of a revival for the brand after profits slumped to £2.1 million six years ago.


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