"The thing I am most interested in is continuity. I've always worked hard at not being today's flavour."
Certainly no one can accuse Paul Smith of being a passing fad. After 30 successful years in the fashion industry and the creation of an empire that carries 12 lines (including Paul Smith, Paul Smith Women, PS by Paul Smith, Paul Smith Jeans, Paul Smith London, R. Newbold in Japan only, Paul Smith Accessories, Paul Smith Shoes, Paul Smith Fragrance, Paul Smith Watches, Paul Smith Pens and Paul Smith furniture and ‘things’) and has annual sales of well over $300 million, Paul Smith was knighted by Queen Elizabeth in 2001. Sir Paul Smith attributes his success to his unique combination of the classic and quirky, which he has described as "Savile Row meets Mr. Bean". Sir Paul Smith's real value to his clients is that he allows men to buy traditional (and therefore commercial) designs that allow the buyer a twist of personality. For example, he has a line of very classic men's dress shirts with secret pictures of naked ladies tucked away inside of the cuffs. He is famous for this and his signature striped socks which allow any man to "Sir Paul Smith" his most conservative suit.
His success lies not only in his creativity, but in his ability to see a niche and seize it. Paul Smith Designs is one of the first fashion houses to focus on the tall thin man, more specifically, the tall thin man with a quirky and fun personality.
Paul Smith can be seen on many well known personas including Parker Posey, violinist Vanessa Mae, Jude Law, Matthew McConaughey and David Bowie.
One would think that such great success would stem from a lifelong passion, however that is not true in this case. Sir Paul Smith took up design in the mid to late 1970s after a cycling accident ended his plans to be a competitive cyclist. Thank goodness for bends in the road!