Paul Smith

STARTING AFRESH: Sir Paul Smith is marking the start of a new era at his label with a spring campaign that aims to channel the designer’s trademark irreverence.

Featuring Polish model Malgosia Bela and Ben Allen, the campaign takes its inspiration from the neon signs and the sandy beaches of the South of France. Black-and-white images of the sea provide the backdrop for bright colors and prints, including Hawaiian shirts and a tuna motif inspired by Smith’s many visits to the Tsukiji Fish Market in Tokyo.

“Bright color and confident use of print are two things that lots of people know and love Paul Smith for,” said the designer. “This felt particularly true in my spring 2018 collection, where the ocean-inspired print was so prominent in many of my designs for both men and women. For the campaign it felt right to bring the brightness and optimism to the fore. It feels like we all need a bit of color right now.”

Smith has returned to the creative helm of his newly restructured company and said it was important to launch a campaign that telegraphs the brand’s message.

“I’ve been in this industry for a long time, but I’ve never known it to move and change as quickly as it is right now. There’s never been so many brands fishing from the same pond. Because of that, it’s so important to deliver a focused and clear message with everything that you’re putting out there – from the advertising campaigns you’re shooting, to the windows and shops you’re merchandising and everything in between,” added the designer.

“It’s simple. These pictures are about great clothes that don’t need an instruction manual.”

In line with the brand’s new digital direction, the campaign will not break in print publications, but will only appear on the brand’s own media platforms.

The past few years saw the company undergo some major changes, which included streamlining its various secondary lines and denim collections into just two labels, Paul Smith and P.S. Paul Smith. It also shifted to a coed runway show format in Paris.

The company has returned to growth, with fall/winter 2017 sales up 14 percent year-over-year, and 11 percent on a like-for-like basis.

“We knew we had to go backwards to go forwards, and we did. Nobody likes to go backwards — which we did for a couple of years — but the reorganization has just come to fruition now. You have to be brave to do it, and you can’t be so arrogant to think that these things don’t apply to you,” said the designer, who has been working on the shop floor of his Albemarle Street store on Saturday afternoons.

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