Paul Smith Mixes Art and Commerce

If England is indeed a nation of shopkeepers — as the French have been saying with a sneer since the 18th century — then the keeper in chief should be Sir Paul Smith, who managed to transform a tiny, windowless shop in his native Nottingham into an international — and still independent — business with annual sales north of $ 320 million and double-digit profits.
Smith, 69, achieved it all with no fancy investment (indeed, he was often the one investing, buying the real estate for his British shops), no grand marketing or advertising (he shoots all the campaigns himself), and no disproportionate reliance on fragrance or accessories to keep the ready-to-wear machine humming.
He has always been big in Japan — the country fell quickly for his charm and childlike imagination — and his licensed sales — separate from his own direct business — in the region total about $ 330 million annually. The brand has been selling there since 1982, and Smith said that even during the country’s lost decades of economic growth, volume never fell.
Smith’s commercial savvy, curiosity and creativity, inside and outside the luxury arena, have made him postwar Britain’s most successful independent fashion designer. He was knighted by Queen

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