The Story Of Our Signature Stripe

Instantly recognisable, the Paul Smith Signature Stripe is the perfect example of our company’s colourful character and ethos. Here, we explain how it came to be – and what it represents today.

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The Origins

Stripes are synonymous with Paul Smith. They have been part of the designer’s collections since he started working in the 1970s out of his first shop in Nottingham, but few are familiar with how the Signature Stripe story starts. As is the case with most things Paul Smith, it had humble beginnings. In the pursuit of creating something unlike anything else on the market, it came about almost by accident: when Paul began experimenting with different coloured threads.

"We made them with something called windings, where you take a piece of card and a selection of yarns in different colours, then wind the yarn around the card to build up a series of stripes,” Paul explains. “Colour is three-dimensional and so by creating the stripes by hand you can see the colours at their most vivid.”

The Craft

True to its handmade heritage, today Paul Smith’s Signature Stripe is reserved for products crafted from premium fabrics and materials, and as unexpected details on more classic pieces. The Signature Stripe also stands for innovation and originality, being used in novel, unexpected and complex ways to create pieces that employ modern artisanal techniques. Whether you spot it as discreet tipping on the collar of a polo shirt, the lining of a calf leather wallet made in Italy or knitted as an intarsia on a fine merino wool sweater, the Signature Stripe represents timeless luxury, enduring quality and a dash of character.

Wrapped & Unwrapped

Last year, the Signature Stripe took to the skies. Quite literally. Paul Smith’s Signature Stripe “wrapped” hot air balloon was stitched entirely by hand in the last remaining British workshop of its kind, utilising the skill of artisans who have truly mastered an almost forgotten art. The vast ‘envelope’ – the official term for the bag on a hot air balloon – measured over 22 metres in height and showcased the optimism the Signature Stripe has come to represent.


This year, Paul Smith pays tribute to the Signature Stripe by “unwrapping” our iconic hot pink Melrose shop in LA to reveal its inner stripe – an installation that stresses the parallels between the craft heritage of the Signature Stripe and its modern form. Painted entirely by hand by a group of specialist artisans, the monumental mural took three expert painters five days to complete using 15 gallons of paint, who mixed each of the 40 shades by hand and eye.

Anatomy Of The Signature Stripe

The Signature Stripe is made up of an incredible 40 different colours. It is characterised by varying width bands, achieved today through digital design. As well as its classic colourway, the Signature Stripe is also seen in tonal variations throughout Paul Smith collections. In knitwear and shirting, the all-over Signature Stripe is intarsia knitted and yarn dyed and woven, respectively. You might have spotted a few of its siblings over the years: in addition to the Signature Stripe, Paul Smith has developed the Artist Stripe, the Sports Stripe and most recently, the Summer Stripe.

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The Story Of Our Signature Stripe