Paul Smith store

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A British label of apparel that comes in all the colours of the rainbow

Review of Paul Smith

Product range: Womenswear, menswear, childrenswear, footwear, and accessories, as well as a host of trinkets and doodahs like scrapbooks, cushions, Schima superba dolls, fruit bowls, cycling helmets, and T-shirts that were part of the brand's collaborations with the late David Bowie. The range of curiosities also includes an impressive limited edition 170 x 70 x 70 cm psychedelic cactus coat stand, for example. All items are multi-coloured and vintage-tinged.

Womenswear collections by Paul Smith are dominated by classic double-breasted and one-button blazers, grosgrain waist belt midi dresses, knee length slightly flared skirts, and tailored shirts that feature subtle all-over prints. Menswear collections by Paul Smith cover sweaters, shirts, and polo shirts that come in all the colours of the rainbow, classic-fit jeans available in a dozen hues each, and two-piece suits ranging from ultimate classics to more experimentally-minded burgundy evening suits. At Paul Smith, menswear is the king and well outnumbers the items catering to women. Colour styling is very prominent, contrasting combinations of vibrant colours are among the key defining characteristics of the brand. One of the most striking things about Paul Smith is that it offers utterly unassuming pieces like navy windbreakers alongside the pieces that pushes fashion to the brink of kitsch (think, a bright pink men's maxi overcoat).

The secret to originality of Paul Smith is in its treatment of colour. Collections by this brand blend elements of abstraction, pop art, and ethnic motifs. All of their seasonal collections are unimaginable without their signature prints of postal stamps, tape recorders, pin-up girls and, of course, multi-coloured stripes.

Relevance: Paul Smith is one of those brands that once succeeded in finding their lucrative niches and update their designs only bit by bit so as not to fall out of fashion. Embarking on the most hyped trends is never an option there. That said, their products keep looking remarkably on-trend.

Pricing policy: A signature line dress will cost you £1,000, while its diffusion line counterpart is £250. A men's shirt is available for £100 to £300, prices for two-piece suits start from £685. A hand-woven Minnie Mouse cushion costs £280, "Artist Stripe" notebooks are £20 on average, while 14-vent and eco-leather chinstrap cycling helmets, a fancy hommage to the brand's founder past, are £220.

Corporate history highlights: As a child Paul Smith's ambitions were not to design clothing but to become a professional racing cyclist, however, a sustained major injury proved career-ending for him. After the 6 month recovery Smith delved into learning the craft of tailoring, and then got a position of a menswear buyer at a local fashion store. Paul Smith opened his first store in his native Nottingham in 1970. The store started out as a multi-label but over the time the items branded as Paul Smith were also introduced into the range the store carried. The designer was making unassuming menswear classics, the one he enjoyed putting on himself. A mere six years later, Paul Smith unveiled a full-fledged menswear collection in Paris and then launched his namesake boutique there as well. The same period saw the invention of his signature multi-coloured stripes, which served as an ingenious device to add a playful touch to otherwise formal men's tailored shirts.

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