PAUL SMITH

PAUL SMITH (1946- )

Paul Smith has established a reputation for aligning British male fashion traditions with a progressive outlook in the marketing of clothes and promotion of a contemporary British Lifestyle. His well-made clothes have captured the imagination of consumers internationally through the opening up of shops and franchises in New York (1987), Hong Kong (1990), Paris, and elsewhere. By the mid-1990s about two-thirds of sales were for export, with more than 162 Paul Smith outlets in Japan, where he is feted as one of Britain's foremost designers. Smith opened his first clothing shop in Nottingham, England, in 1970, rapidly building up his business through a combination of classic tailoring and traditional materials alongside a flair for rethinking the ways in which such elements could be reinterpreted in fashionable ways. Important in the company's success has been Pauline Denyer, a Royal College of Art fashion graduate and co-owner of the company whom Smith first met in 1969. In 1976 Smith showed his first men's collection in Paris, his growing success leading to the opening of his shop in Covent Garden, London, in 1979. In 1983 he participated in the English Designer Menswear Collection show in Paris. By the early 1990s, after establishing that about 15 per cent of Paul Smith clothes were bought by women, a women's collection was introduced in 1993, an addition to his earlier diversification into children's clothing in 1990. Also in 1993, Smith took over the firm of R. Newbould (established 1885), which had specialized in workers' clothing, and adapted many of its lines for his own collections. The 1990s also saw the launch of Paul Smith eyeglasses, watches, and other accessories, as well as the mounting in 1995 of a solo exhibition, True Brit, at the Design Museum, London, designed by Tom Dixon. Reviewing his design contribution over the previous 25 years, it was the first time that the museum had devoted an entire show to an individual fashion designer.

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