Sir Paul Smith, RDI, (born in Beeston, Nottingham on July 5, 1946) is an English fashion designer. Smith only took up fashion design after having been injured in a cycling accident. He set up his first shop in Nottingham in 1970. He gradually expanded his retail business, being the first fashion brand to open on Floral Street in London's Covent Garden in 1979, subsequently a new Notting Hill, Victorian converted, town-house flagship opening in 1998. The success of his business has been put down to his understanding of his dual roles of both designer and retailer.
Today there are 12 different collections; Paul Smith, Paul Smith Women, PS by Paul Smith, Paul Smith Jeans, Paul Smith London, R.Newbold (Japan only), Paul Smith Accessories, Paul Smith Shoes, Paul Smith Fragrance, Paul Smith Watches, Paul Smith Pens and Paul Smith furniture and ‘things’. Designed in Nottingham and London, the Paul Smith collections are primarily produced in England and Italy while the fabrics used are mainly of Italian, French and British origin. The company today boasts annual revenue in excess of £300 million as of 2006.
Smith was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II in 2001, after nearly three decades as a menswear icon. His collections of clothing and accessories for both men and women are best known for Smith's signature multi-coloured pinstripes. Celebrity fans include singer Clay Aiken, who collects Smith's striped socks.
Paul Smith is credited with introducing a number of trends within the realms of fashion and 'lifestyle' including the revival of the Filofax in the early 1980s.
Paul Smith's collections are wholesaled to thirty five countries and has fourteen shops in England. Paul Smith shops are found in London, Nottingham, Paris, Milan, Moscow, New York, Los Angeles, Hong Kong, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand, the Philippines, Korea, Kuwait, UAE – and over two hundred throughout Japan. Paul remains fully involved in the Japanese business; designing the clothes, choosing the fabrics, approving the shop locations and overseeing every development within the company. Paul Smith also has impressive and diverse showrooms in London, Paris, Milan, New York and Tokyo.
Smith's menswear collections cater largely to men of tall, slim builds - a niche market that very few high street designers have targeted. Apart from his multi-coloured stripes, Paul Smith has created waves in the fashion world with his "naked lady" designs - pictures of a naked lady "hidden" inside cuffs or wallets, for example. Likewise the Paul Smith sock collections, which contain some designs that use his signature stripes, are particulary sought after.