Designer Paul Smith says ‘talent goldmine’ untapped

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Smith was opening a new exhibition of his life at the Design Museum in London, “Hello My Name is Paul Smith”, which celebrates his 43 years in the fashion business

From humble beginnings, Smith now oversees an empire with an annual turnover of an estimated £350 million ($563 million, 420 million euros), and more than 70 shops around the world, especially in Japan.

The exhibition features a mock-up of the very first Paul Smith shop in Nottingham, central England, and a copy of his chaotic-looking studio.

Wearing one of his own green floral shirts — and handing out socks from his collection to reporters who asked questions — Smith said he was concerned that a new generation of British designers were not getting enough support.

“In terms of Britain we’ve got this fantastic goldmine of talent. What’s the saddest part is that we’re not so good at embracing it in terms of business,” he told AFP.

“We seem to have the talent in terms of design but not in terms of captains of industry or man-management that can make it work.”

Despite his success — he is mobbed in public appearances in Japan — Smith says he has not changed.

“The 40-year span of my career is very much down to being normal and down to earth, treating every day as a new day, keeping my feet on the ground and being very patient,” he said.

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