“There’s not so much you can do to the actual case because it’s so perfect,” Paul Smith said when the collaboration with the British suitcase manufacturer Globe-Trotter was unveiled in 2018. The collection was created as a limited edition of 120 cases to mark Globe-Trotter’s 120th anniversary. Each one was individually numbered and hand-signed by Smith, and featured his playful use of color and signature stripe details. Made in Hertfordshire, England, each case took more than 10 days to complete. “They’re handcrafted, not mass-produced,” Smith said. “In fact, lots of the elements are still manufactured by eye, which is amazing.”
Smith teamed with New Balance in 2018 as an homage to the sportswear brand’s British manufacturing heritage. For decades it has been located in the Cumbrian town of Flimby. The capsule collection of trainers and soccer boots all featured his signature vertical striped motif. The men’s trainer was released in black leather and the women’s in white, both reworkings of New Balance’s classic 576 style, and done in limited editions. Rounding out the collection were three hand-stitched leather soccer balls.
Cutler and Gross
Smith and the British eyewear brand Cutler and Gross unveiled a one-off collaboration collection in 2018, which was branded Paul Smith but was made at Cutler and Gross’ Italian factory. Featuring lenses by French firm Dalloz Creations, the collection of optical lenses and sunglasses featured a mix of acetate and metal frames — and was a commercial hit with consumers.
This led to the two firms inking a three-year partnership to produce further collections of eyewear, which will debut at the eyewear trade fair Mido in Milan in February, with the designs set to be stocked in both brands’ own stores around the world.
Smith, who was close friends with the company’s late cofounder Tony Gross, said he’d always admired the brand: “The attention to detail and expertise that Tony practiced is still absolutely central to the work the company is doing today,” he said.
Since 2014, Smith has collaborated with the British maker of desk lamps, on a number of different series that explore color variation, scale and tone. From miniature, shelf-mounted versions to floor-standing oversize lamps, Smith and Anglepoise have explored a variety of different directions and colorways, and the lamps themselves have become collectors’ items.
Built to showcase Land Rover’s bespoke Special Vehicle Operations service, the one-off model was created in 2016 to mark the end of the model’s production. A longtime fan and owner of the brand’s Defender model, one of the longest-running cars in history that was in production from 1948 to 2016, Smith customized the car using 27 specially mixed bespoke colors on different panels for a patchwork effect. The interior was also given a bespoke finish using, among other materials, a textile that Smith had designed for the American upholstery company, Maharam.
This collection was released in 2012 at the height of the sartorial movement in men’s wear and fused Smith’s eye for color with John Lobb’s reputation for footwear construction. The collection employed the best of each partner’s knowledge. Featuring four bright colorways in three styles (leather Oxford brogues, suede Derbys and suede loafers), each model came with matching shoelaces and shoe trees. The collaboration was meant to commemorate the London Olympics and retailed in selected Paul Smith and John Lobb stores.
One of Paul’s sayings is, “Many people look, but often they don’t see,” and it reflects his work with the German photography equipment manufacturer Leica. Smith, who has been taking pictures since he was a child, has released two cameras with Leica: The first, in 2012, was a multicolored version of the brand’s X2 model, featuring a Smith-penned sketch of a lightbulb on top of the pop-up flash. The second was released in 2019, a Leica CL digital, inspired by the colors of Smith’s Land Rover Defender. It featured custom illustrations and a sporty rope strap.
The French water brand has been involved in fashion collaborations for many years, beginning in 2008 with Jean Paul Gaultier, and most recently showcasing Virgil Abloh’s distinctive graphic style in 2019. In 2009, Smith was asked for his own take on water bottle design as part of the brand’s annual “designer” bottle initiative released in time for Christmas. The design featured Smith’s signature stripes around the neck of the glass bottle and five differently colored collectible bottle caps. Available from stores like Colette and Selfridges as well as high-street retailers, this was one of the most democratic — and affordable — collaborations that Smith has ever released.
Smith’s love of cycling can be traced to his childhood and has shaped his entire career. Aged 10, he began collecting obscure continental cycling publications and would have become a professional cyclist were it not for a major crash in his teens. Over the years, he has amassed a formidable collection of vintage jerseys and created “Paul Smith’s Cycling Scrapbook,” with Thames & Hudson.
His collection inspired the British brand Rapha to create cycle jerseys and accessories marking the start of the Tour de France in London in 2007. The relationship between the two brands has been reprised several times, most recently in spring 2019 when the two came out with a collaboration featuring unique, striped designs. There was a jersey, bib shorts and base layer design in navy, and a companion range in green.
To mark the 60th anniversary of Penguin Books, the publisher released a number of special projects, including a fiction festival in conjunction with The Times of London. For this project, Smith was asked to choose and redesign one book cover from Penguin’s history, and he selected “Lady Chatterley’s Lover.” Created in a limited edition of 1,000 copies, the design featured flower embroidery on a delicate white silk dust jacket.
“Men in Black”
In early 2018, it was revealed that Smith would collaborate with British costume designer Penny Rose to create suits for the latest installment of Sony Pictures’ “Men in Black” film franchise. Using wool cloth from his A Suit to Travel In range, Smith created bespoke looks for Agents H (Chris Hemsworth) and M (Tessa Thompson). He finished them with printed linings and accessorized them with playful socks for that full Paul Smith look.
An in-store capsule collection accompanied the film’s release in June 2019. In addition, the designers created bespoke costumes for Agent O, played by Emma Thompson. “I’ve designed suits for Earthlings for my entire career, so the opportunity to take things to another dimension was too good to refuse,” Smith said.
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