Paul Smith is one of the biggest designer labels in the World and the man behind the brand has certainly achieved true legendary status. Paul Smith is, without doubt, one of the UK’s biggest designers. His particular aesthetic, combining modern styles with vintage ideas, is distinctive enough to spot before you check out the label!
When asked about his own fashion designs, Paul Smith is famous for saying that ‘you can find inspiration in everything’. This is exactly what Smith has done over his long, incredibly successful career. It’s Paul Smith’s personal preferences and sense of humour that many fans have responded to so strongly over the years. He wasn’t just designing fashion; he was presenting his own unique sense of humour and identity, which was a completely revolutionary way to approach fashion design.
In 1967, Paul Smith opened a small clothing store in Nottingham, selling clothes by brands like Katherine Hamnett and Kenzo. On top of selling other brands, Smith began designing his own clothes and selling them in his shop. People started responding to Smith’s designs and favouring them to the other big designer brands he stocked. This was the first big sign that Paul Smith was going to be a success and he continued on and expanded his collections. By 1976, Paul Smith’s collections were shown in Paris and by the mid-to-late 80s, Smith’s unique style and approach to men’s fashion had garnered international acclaim.
Paul Smith is best known for designing men’s clothes, and he does this in a unique and surprising way. Smith combines smart formalwear with eccentricity and a few bright colours. Often, a Paul Smith suit will have a smart exterior and a vibrant interior lining, or one colourful aspect set against an otherwise darker backdrop. Fans of Paul Smith often say that his style is eccentric but not silly, and it’s his eccentric personality that has helped propel him and his fashion house to such dizzying success. With so many advocates of Paul Smith along the way, it’s not surprising that he acquired a few high-profile fans, such as rock idols Eric Clapton, Paul Weller, and David Bowie!
Paul Smith is famous for celebrating his British heritage by regularly including the Union Jack in many of his designs. From smaller Union Jack handkerchiefs to substantial Union Jack suits! This influence could only come through because Paul Smith was open to it and because he gave himself permission to explore his own sense of style and to take inspiration from wherever he liked. This freedom of expression is present in much of Paul Smith’s work and it’s perhaps a more diffuse iteration of the sentiment ‘you can find inspiration in everything’. An influence that is close to the heart of the designer is cycling, having dreamed of becoming a cyclist in his youth. The sleek cuts of Smith’s designs mirror that of the aerodynamic cycling jerseys of the peloton in the Tour De France.
Paul Smith’s eyewear is a brilliant kaleidoscope of Smith’s various styles and design ideas over the years. There is an undeniable vintage aesthetic that perhaps belongs to the 70s more than to any other era. Although there are several styles most of us have seen before, Paul Smith manages to tweak or subvert these styles in subtle ways, always creating his own spin on a classic design. This has been key to his success in the wider fashion world and it is certainly successful in eyewear fashion world!