In business for over 40 years, Sir Paul Smith has established himself as the pre-eminent British designer. He has an ability to anticipate and even spark off trends, not only fashion but in the wider context of popular culture. He manages to transmit a genuine sense of humour and mischief mixed with his love of tradition and the classics.
The Paul Smith shops reflect the character of Paul and his designs, an unmistakable Englishness augmented by the unexpected. Each and every Paul Smith shop is individual in its style, from a shocking pink building with movie set styling on Melrose Avenue in LA, to a Japanese garden at the heart of the Jingumae store in Tokyo. Each shop is a showcase for diverse and eccentric objects complementing the clothing collections with an extensive selection of jewellery, books, art and antiques.
Our local store on the corner of Kensington Park Road and Westbourne Grove is a prime example of this. With the multi-site Manager, Luigi, at its helm the store radiates individuality and contemporary brilliance. We asked him some quick-fire questions on his views of the store and the local area…
All Paul Smith shops are unique. What makes the Notting Hill shop special?
It’s the flagship store and the first to be built inside a house; a life-long dream of the man himself. I adore the Bespoke room where some incredible people go in and have the most beautiful suits made.
Are the tailors based at your Notting Hill store very popular with the locals? Does it create a sense of old world charm having the tailor aspect of the business under your roof?
The Bespoke room is fundamental to us, it creates a great environment and it allows us to give that very personal service to our clients. A lot of them have been coming here for many years while others travel from as far afield as Switzerland, Italy and so on. All wanting that extra special Paul Smith suit made to their requirements.
Do the tailors cater for men/woman/children?
Mainly for men and women however we have made suits for younger people before too, although this is quite rare.
Tell us about one of your favourite pieces from the collection.
A bright blue suit from our mainline SS13 range, it’s cut beautifully and looks sharp on every guy I have seen wearing it, a sign of a good garment!
Do you have certain favourites/best sellers for different seasons, summer/winter?
Generally shirting but also our suits are sought after and various objects from wallets to bags.
What are the shop’s most sought-after pieces?
British collection suits, made entirely with British manufactured cloth.
How would you describe the Paul Smith style – does your own style reflect this?
Paul Smith alternates classic tailoring ideas and concepts with rock n’ roll. There is something for everybody and my style reflects those parts of the collection which I am more comfortable with. Pairing a classic print shirt with some drainpipe denim jeans and adding some uber classic brogues with a union jack sole for instance. How cool is that?
Describe Notting Hill in three words?
Flamboyant, Charming, Happy
What attracted you to Notting Hill?
The vibrancy of the area, the “Meltin pot” and the fact you could run a boutique which feels like your local indie shop
Why did you first open in W11?
This area is very dear to Paul Smith as he is a long serving resident
Do you feel part of the community?
Absolutely! We participate in local community meetings, liaise with other retailers and participate in local initiatives
What are the benefits of having a business in the heart of W11?
The exclusivity of the area and the fantastic variety of clients
What projects are you excited about at the moment?
We are currently preparing for our new AW13 collection which is going to hit the store soon and it promises to be quite exciting and bright.
What can’t you live without?
Good old Italian food.
What other cities do you love for fashion/getting inspiration/shopping?
I adore Madrid, for its lifestyle.
Your favourite place for a drink after work?
The Gold on Portobello Road, or Negozio Classica on Westbourne Grove for a nice bubbly prosecco.
What are you currently reading?
Zero Zero Zero by Roberto Saviano.
Is there a member of staff in particular who stands out and goes above and beyond whom you feel deserves a mention?
All my team are absolutely flawless and go the extra mile to look after our clients, be those locals or weekend visitors.
How long has Paul Smith been established?
Since the 70’s
What is the best thing about working for Paul Smith?
Freedom of operation, the humanity and the sense of never knowing what’s round the corner…in a very positive creative way!
Paul explains his eclectic aesthetic: “We’re a leading and uniquely British brand. We mix up one-off antiques with high quality tailoring: the chair you sit on when you buy a suit is for sale and we can wrap the suit and have the chair waiting for you when you get home.”
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. Paul Smith continues to be an integral part of the company both as designer and chairman, and is involved in every aspect of the business. As a result, Paul Smith Limited retains a personal touch often lost in companies of a similar size.