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Fashion Legend – Sir Paul Smith

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You only have to look at the iconic Paul Smith signature to recognise his is a brand of the highest standing; there is an effortless flow to the celebrated scrawl – neat and tidy yet with a playful edge, it is the perfect summary for the world famous brand and the bespectacled fashion legend (I do not use that word lightly) who sits respectfully at the head of this beautifully crafted, quintessentially British, brand.

Smith has become renowned during his forty years service to the fashion industry as an innovative, forward thinking menswear designer, who effortlessly mixes traditional tailoring with contemporary colours and prints to create ranges that year-upon-year ensure menswear is in safe hands.

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The beauty of Smith and the menswear designs he and his team produce lie in the transcending nature of the classic / contemporary blend; it creates a path for the wider audience of men who may be less inclined to venture into the realms of fashion a chance to wear one of the worlds best labels while at the same juncture, appealing to a more niche market of fashion savvy gents who like their cloth cut just so and aren’t afraid to don a brightly hued shirt from time to time.

History

Fashion wasn’t Smiths first love however with the young Nottingham born teen an avid race cyclist, a passion which is still very much at the forefront of his life outside of fashion to this day. Unfortunately a collision with a car while riding his bike curtailed any dreams of racing professionally but it was also the catalyst for the designer we know today.

During his six months in hospital Smith met some fellow patients who upon his release introduced him to some of Nottingham’s coolest kids. The pub they drank in was popular with the local art students and it was here, over talk of Warhol, The Rolling Stones and a plethora of other famous creative artists that Smith decided this was a world he wanted to be a part of.

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Smith was soon managing a clothing boutique in Nottingham and with the encouragement and support of his RCA graduate girlfriend Pauline Denyer (who now happens to be his wife) he opened his own shop and enrolled at night school to study military tailoring. From here he started to make his own clothes (initially with the help and guidance of Denyer) and the rest as they say is history.

Today, with over 300 stores stretching across the globe and a plethora of diffusion lines to support the main Paul Smith brand, the PS signature is synonymous with the finest tailoring and modern design in menswear the world over. From tailored suits to floral shirts (Smith pretty much single handedly got men wearing floral patterns), fine Italian leather shoes to the softest of silk ties, there really isn’t a garment of menswear that hasn’t been touched by the fine hand of this humble British gent.

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However, don’ t just take our word for it – here are just a few of the pieces Sir Paul Smith is know for and the latest in a long line of both critically and commercially successful menswear designs.

Shirts

Floral, floral and a bit more floral, there is even a Paul Smith store on Floral Street in London’s Covent Garden. Add to the mix enough colour ways to make a rainbow envious and you get the picture. Smith isn’t a one trick pony though, every season there is a new print or colour scheme, another take on a classic or a myriad of new designs all of which keeps both the public and fashion press waiting for more.

printed cotton shirtshort sleeved shirtmesh printed shirt

panelled cotton shirttie dye shirtgeometric planets shirt

Polo Shirts & Tees

Logo prints and geometric patterns are very much at the forefront of the Paul Smith lines this summer. Once again colour is paramount to the collection and with spring hopefully soon to wash away the winter cobwebs, what better way to open your summer wardrobe than with a Paul Smith polo or t-shirt.

crew neck teemagic cotton teereaper printed tee

contrast panel shirtcolour block shirtmerino polo shirt

Knitwear

Houndstooth check, slim fitting, loose fitting, plain, patterned, black or radiant pinks and yellows, you name it, Paul Smith produces it on the finest of knitwear fabrics. It doesn’t matter if you are after a heavy gauge knit for those cold days on the bike or a fine knit for an evening out, there really is a world of choice from the Paul Smith range.

flecked knitted shirtwave knit sweatercontrast stripe sweater

checked cotton sweatercrew neck sweatertrimmed linen cardigan

Shoes

Smith may be proud of his roots in the UK but he knows a good cobbler when he sees one and you do not get any better than the Italians. It doesn’t matter whether you are after black dress shoes, brogues with a contemporary, contrast commando sole or a pair of brown boots, with the finest leather and the best manufacturers, there is simply nothing quite like a pair of PS shoes. And this being the 21st Century, Smith has now delved in to the trainer market.

sole leather broguesaesop running trainersmacey derby shoes

falconer chelsea bootsfrank leather shoeshigh top trainers

Conclusion

With a personal fortune well into the millions and a brand known throughout the globe, it would be easy for a man of Paul Smith’s stature to get caught up in the pomp and glamour that is oft-associated with the world of fashion but it is the fact he remains so humble, so down-earth, a proud Nottingham-raised lad who has never forgotten where his roots lie, that make him such an endearing part of the fashion fabric.

The essence of the clothes he designs and makes are to look good but have some fun doing it. There is an understated air of traditional values mixed in with a hearty dollop of modern mischievousness in his clothes that all men can relate to.

He may never have had the opportunity to live his childhood dream of becoming a profession cyclist but his loss has meant us gents all get to look a little better going about our daily business. For that Sir Paul Smith, we kneel before thee.

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Robbie Canale
Robbie Canale

Robbie Canale is a freelance writer and stylist with a passion for football and fashion, two genres he knows should never go together! He has contributed to publications including Harper's Bazaar Arabia, GQ Dubai and Pickles football magazine.

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