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In recent times, one of Nottingham’s most famous and successful sons has been fashion designer, Sir Paul Smith.
Starting his career in fashion aged 15 with a job as an errand boy in a Nottingham clothing warehouse, his designs for the showroom displays caught the eye of his boss. This led to a position as the factory’s menswear buyer aged just 17. By 1974 his shop had outgrown its premises and moved to Byard Lane, where a Paul Smith outlet remains to this day. By 1976 Paul showed his first menswear collection in Paris under the Paul Smith label.
Within 20 years, Sir Paul established himself as the pre-eminent British designer - creating trends not only in fashion but in the wider context of popular culture, combining a love of tradition and the classics with a genuine sense of humour and mischief. Paul Smith is now a global phenomenon. His collections are designed in Nottingham and London before being wholesaled to 35 countries and shops around the world (including 200 throughout Japan).
However, Sir Paul’s latest retail venture is back in Nottingham: Willoughby House, a five-floor, Grade II listed building showcasing both men’s and women’s collections, including accessories. The shop’s interior has been designed by Sir Paul and complements the 18th century building’s history.
The house stands atop the famous Nottingham caves which create the store’s basement. “A shop selling all my various collections is long overdue in my home town of Nottingham and I’m very excited to open this shop – especially as it is in such a special house,” explains the revered designer.