LONDON — Paul Smith is taking his women’s show on the road — to Paris — combining it with his men’s runway outing for the first time as part of a new strategy, WWD has learned.
Smith’s co-ed catwalk show will take place Jan. 22 and bridge men’s fashion week and Paris Couture shows. The British designer, whose women’s shows usually take place during London Fashion Week, said it’s a natural step.
“As an independent business, we can be very agile and address the changes in the evolving market in interesting ways,” said Smith, adding Paris is where he launched his brand in the Seventies. “Exciting times ahead!”
According to the company, the show will close Paris men’s fashion week and open Paris Couture.
While Smith may be a Nottingham, England, native with his company headquarters based in London, Paris has always been part of the DNA of his business. His first shop, which opened in Nottingham in 1970, was called Paul Smith Vêtements pour Hommes — not that he spoke much French at the time — and six years later he showed his first men’s wear collection in Paris.
Since then, he’s been showing his men’s collection in the French capital and has five boutiques there, as well as a French headquarters.
Earlier this year, the designer received the Légion d’honneur, France’s highest distinction, in recognition of his career-long ties with France. His official title is Officier in the Order of the Légion d’honneur.
On receiving the French award, Smith talked about his 40-year relationship with France and Paris in particular. “I’ve had 80 fashion shows in Paris and five shops. Outside of Paris I’ve got strong relationships all over the country. It’s a wonderful honor to receive this accolade.”
Smith has become the latest London designer to combine his men’s and women’s collections on one catwalk. Burberry staged its first see-now-buy-now co-ed show last month while during the June men’s shows in London, brands including Coach, Sibling, Bobby Abley and Agi & Sam all showed women’s wear.
Starting next year, Gucci plans to combine its men’s and women’s collections on one catwalk, although it has yet to say whether it will show to the men’s or women’s schedule, while Dsquared2 will show its men’s and women’s collections during Milan Men’s Fashion Week. Bottega Veneta showed men’s and women’s together in October and its creative director Tomas Maier indicated it may continue to do so in seasons ahead.
Paul Smith said because the women’s collections have always had a direct design association with the men’s – and a traditional focus on tailoring – it was natural to show the collections together.
The announcement comes nearly a year after Paul Smith revealed plans to streamline his labeling in a bid to simplify his offer in the eyes of consumers and strengthen the core name.
Beginning with fall 2016 the designer consolidated his seven collections under two labels, Paul Smith and PS by Paul Smith.
Paul Smith includes ready-to-wear, footwear and accessories for men and women. Smith’s handwritten signature logo appears on the labels and of the men’s and women’s collections, which are both shown on the runway.
PS by Paul Smith is more accessible in terms of product, price and distribution and includes clothing, denim, footwear and accessories for men and women. It is presented four times a year in Paul Smith showrooms worldwide.
Last year, Smith also reorganized his design studio, naming the company’s first creative director, Simon Homes. The men’s and women’s teams now sit next to each other, sharing fabrics and working in parallel.
Smith remains the majority shareholder, with a 60 percent stake in his namesake company, while Itochu, his longtime Japanese licensee, holds the remaining 40 percent.