1. What were you like as a child? I was actually not very interesting at all. I was quite boring. I can’t actually remember being a child: the earliest I can remember is my eleventh birthday, because I got a racing bike. My brother was 11 years older than me and my sister was eight years older, so I was like an only child. I think my childhood was very relaxed and calm – so calm that it didn’t register.
2. How would you describe the new Paul Smith Junior collection? Not too urban and street and cool in terms of music-related and not little me, not mini-me adults. It’s more about taking the spirit of what I do for men and women. For instance, on a boy striped shirt there will always be that little secret that one day he will notice, like the inside of the cuff will be a different colour. For girls, it will be picking up on the colours from the women's collection – maybe literally one of the prints or maybe just the feeling of the print. In terms of styling, we really want to keep it simple.
3. What’s your proudest achievement? One of the things I’m most proud of is the continuity we’ve had over the years. What’s great about Paul Smith is that we seem to take our age group with us, but we’ve also got new customers and of course now we’ve got children’s again. A lot of young men’s first suit is Paul Smith, and it really pleases me that wearing a Paul Smith suit is giving them that confidence. A young man recently sent me a painting (an homage to the Paul Smith stripe) as a gift. He said he’d not really had a job for a while and was struggling, but he loved Paul Smith. He was dressed head to toe in Paul Smith for an interview and he felt so confident that he got the job. He sent the painting as a thank-you.
4. Do you drive the Paul Smith Mini Cooper? It was in the showroom at the office about a month ago. There’s only one in the world and it’s in the warehouse most of the time, but it’s going to be used in our children’s shoot for next season. We’ve also done a Paul Smith Elephant for Elephant Parade, which is on display in the Royal Exchange but that’s not the pure stripe.
5. Do you have any hobbies? I’ve been taking a lot of photographs recently. Photography has always been a hobby and I’ve been asked to do things, like portraits of the 20 principal dancers at the Royal Ballet, and an interiors shoot for Grazia Casa. I have the camera with me every day for snaps and a lot of the snaps get used for clothes or a printed fabric, an idea for a lining or for a bag, or maybe a visual reminder of something for the future.
6. Is it more difficult for young fashion designers these days? I’m going to answer in a ridiculous way and the answer is a bit yes and a bit no, because it really is so much to do with your personality, and the opportunities you come across and what you make of them. Of courses there’s an element of luck and of talent and effort. For me, it’s a real combination of things.
7. Do you wish you’d designed the suits for the England football team? We could have done easily but it’s just a big deal. We’ve done them in the past, with Terry Venables. Years ago, it was a very different deal. They would pay for them at cost price, but now you have to give them and they want this, and they want that, so many things. It’s a real big job and you are very open to criticism as well. You’ve got all shapes and sizes and obviously they are not going to suit everybody.