The Art & Craft Of Our Signature Stripe

Signature Stripe: Art & Craft

Go behind the scenes to discover how Paul Smith’s iconic Signature Stripe is made at some of the most renowned craft centres in Italy, Scotland and England.

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Part of our collections and identity since it was introduced by the designer when he set up shop in the 1970s, Paul Smith’s Signature Stripe is instantly recognisable. To paraphrase Paul, it has almost become a logo for the company.

Iconic as it may be, on the surface, it isn’t a complex pattern – it is, ostensibly, a multicoloured stripe. In style terms, it epitomises Paul’s hallmark philosophy: classic with a twist. But that seeming simplicity belies the intricacies that go into both designing and making it.

We went behind the scenes at some of the most renowned and respected workshops in Italy, Scotland and England to discover the art and artistry behind our Signature Stripe knits, scarves and ties, as well as find out more about what goes into making them.

Signature Stripe: Art & Craft

Merino Knits From Italy

At the design stage, there’s hardly an element that isn’t carefully considered when it comes to the creation of our Signature Stripe sweaters, knits and polos, from the placement of the stripes on the cuffs and collar right down to the specific buttons used.

Then there’s the crafting itself, which takes place in Italy, and is a complex process involving turning the knitted fabric at 90-degree angles during construction of the sweater to achieve incredible depth and the varying band widths.

Merino Knits From Italy
Merino Knits From Italy
Merino Knits From Italy

The yarns are chosen for a few reasons. The first relates to the properties of the natural fibre: merino is naturally temperature-regulating (as well as anti-microbial) meaning it can keep you cool in warmer weather and warm when the mercury dives. Then, there’s the fact that it retains colour with a particular intensity and so the vibrancy of all 29 (yes, 29!) colours of the knit has a certain vibrancy you wouldn’t get with other materials. And you thought it was just a stripe…

Silk Ties From England

Silk Ties From England

There was a time when England was at the centre of textile craft and production but these days most of the historic mills and manufacturers are long gone ­– with a few notable exceptions. The outfit that weaves the silk for our ties, for example, is over 300 years old and first set up shop in Spitalfields in London in the 18th century, then the heart of the silk trade.

Still in business today, they’re the first stop in the creation of our Signature Stripe ties. Carefully crafted on looms using the finest silk, the material is woven in something called a reps weave, creating a subtle ribbed effect which gives the silk a lustre and depth without adding glare or too much shine.

Silk Ties From England

After this process is complete and the finished fabric passes strict quality control, then comes the making part of the equation. Like weaving, tie-making is an almost forgotten art in the England but it is still renowned throughout the world. Cut, hand rolled and stitched by expert artisans, each tie is crafted in a labour-intense process with meticulous attention to detail. The results though, speak for themselves.

Wool & Cashmere Scarves From Scotland

Wool & Cashmere Scarves From Scotland

Innovation is all well and good. Innovation, after all, is what led to the creation of Paul Smith’s Signature Stripe in the first place. But when it comes to craft, sometimes it pays to look to the past. Made in Scotland, near the picturesque River Ayr at one of the last remaining weaving mills in the country, our Signature Stripe wool and cashmere scarves prove the theory.

Wool & Cashmere Scarves From Scotland
Wool & Cashmere Scarves From Scotland
Wool & Cashmere Scarves From Scotland

Committed to preserving tradition, the factory they are crafted in stays true to processes that have been handed down through generations. Knitted using time-honoured techniques on a dobby loom and using equipment that, in some cases, is well over a hundred years old, our scarves are made in a classic herringbone weave in a painstaking process that involves 16 separate steps – each of which is completed by a skilled craftsperson. Attention to detail is paramount and to that end, to this day, many of the steps, like finishing the fringing, are still done by hand to ensure the utmost quality.

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