Paul Smith jumped on a flight and flew to Japan after the 2011 tsunami and earthquake hit to be with his staff.
The quintessential English designer has a massive presence in the Asian country, something he attributes to his “real affection for the culture”.
And when Japan was struck by the devastating natural disaster in March 2011, which claimed the lives of over 15,000 people, Paul didn’t hesitate in getting himself over there.
“It was around the time that some of my staff and I usually fly out there. Our trip was cancelled, but I still wanted to go by myself,” he told Mr Porter. “The plane was empty – just me and a handful of people going home to their families. I had to go, to be there with my staff, to say, ‘I’m with you. I understand.’ It made such a difference to them, and to me.”
Estimating that he has visited Japan at least 100 times, Paul has drawn on the nation for a spring collection for Mr Porter.
Made up of a series of printed short-sleeved shirts and shorts covered in flowers and cranes, the designer drew on styles he saw in old Japanese textile books.
“Even now, I still get excited when I go (to Japan),” the 72-year-old smiled.
And when asked why he’s enjoyed so much success in the nation compared to other designers, he ventured: “I came with a different attitude. I think a lot of the others fell by the wayside because they weren’t curious about the culture here; they didn’t try and immerse themselves in the way of life.”
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