New Lantern

About the blog

Light from the
New Lantern blog

Welcome to the New Lantern blog. Our goal is to shine light on leading innovators and creative artists, and how your business can learn and profit from them. Companies large, medium, and small can benefit from employees who think more creatively. New Lantern may be just the source of inspiration your company needs to spark more innovative products, services, and processes.

Fast Company cover

RSS Buttons

Follow New Lantern on Twitter



Born on the Fifth of July

Posted by on July 5, 2010 at 9:36 pm

No, this is not a blog about a sequel to the 1989 movie starring Tom Cruise, “Born on the Fourth of July.” It’s about Sir Paul Smith, famed British fashion designer who was born on July 5, 1946.

Known for his bright color stripes and self-described “classic with a twist” creations, Paul Smith fell into fashion design literally by accident. After dropping out of school at the age of 15 in Nottingham England, Smith’s father escorted him into a nearby clothing warehouse and offered him up as an errand boy. Young Smith’s interest at the time was not in fashion, but in cycle racing.

It was Smith’s cycling to and from the warehouse on deliveries that kept up his interest in the job, until he had a serious accident two years later. During his six-month recuperation in the hospital Smith decided that fashion design may be more his speed than cycling. And the fashion world has never been the same.

Although Paul Smith’s reputation was built primarily as a designer of menswear, today he has 12 different fashion lines, including women’s wear, shoes, pens, watches, and furniture. His collections are wholesaled in 35 countries, with 15 shops in England including his flagship store in Notting Hill.

According to London’s Design Museum, Smith is regarded as Britain’s most consistently successful fashion designer, which is not lost on the Japanese. His products are sold in 200 stores throughout Japan alone – where his label outsells every other European designer.

In 2000, Smith was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II, in recognition of his iconic success over three decades.

Sir Paul Smith continues to remain very active in his company, serving as both chairman and designer. He is also a regular blog contributor at

Many have studied Smith and the source of his success. Some point to his focus and accomplishment as both a designer and a business man. “The reason I’ve been successful is because I’ve just got on and packed boxes and I know that VAT means Value Added Tax not vodka and tonic,” Paul Smith has written. “I’ve sold on the shop floor, I’ve typed invoices.”

There is a lesson here for every aspiring entrepreneur or corporate manager. Creativity, smart design, and business savvy make for a powerful combination for success.

Happy Birthday Sir Paul!