Paul’s Boutique have a unique personality and a distinctive DNA. As a brand they take inspiration from the streets of London to create sophisticated designs with an edgy approach. Paul Slade, creative director, founded the iconic handbag brand at London’s Portobello Road market back in 2000. It quickly became highly sought after due to its eye-catching and bold designs.
Today, the collections continue to encapsulate Paul’s love of quirky prints, fashion-forward designs and modern trends. Dynamic shapes and hints of colour, combined with a contemporary edge feature throughout, celebrate the unique Paul’s Boutique twist. Now in their 15th year, Paul’s Boutique has a successful online presence and a fast growing social media audience, and we spoke to Paul Slade about the first thing he designed and advice for fashion graduates.
What was the first thing you ever designed?
The first thing I ever designed was a floor lamp made from an old bike… I got an A+ for that project but then someone stole it from the college. My first Paul’s Boutique item was a customised army jacket which was covered in rare military patches and a neon Paul’s Boutique logo.
In terms of design, what is your favourite part of the process?
Personally, I enjoy the research. I’m not one for using any trade forecasting sites. I prefer looking at architecture, interiors and sportswear, I love the mix of fabrics and materials.
When designing new collections, where do you find inspiration?
The same applies, but also looking at cool people, what they wear and how they put things together… It’s all about the style!
Do you have a favourite piece from the spring/summer 2016 collection?
I love the “White Casey” from the Lancaster Collection. It’s a sporty, modern backpack using 3D fabric.
Paul's Boutique is known for its quirky designs and modern shapes. Do you have a favourite design?
Well my favourite is “Kiera” from the Ledbury Collection. It isn’t quirky or modern… sorry! But it’s a beautiful leather shopper in khaki green and black. It sold out within a few days of going on the website.
The brand has changed dramatically since it first started on London's Portobello Road Market in 2000. What do you think has been the most important step in rebranding Paul's Boutique?
That’s a good question… Paul’s Boutique became a hugely successful brand very quickly but we made the mistake of designing for our customers (and retailers), and not for ourselves. The biggest step we had to take was withdraw our product from the majority of our UK stores and almost start from scratch. We started to design for ourselves again. We dropped the old logo and set about creating a more grown up look. We still add touches of neon but everything is much more subtle, more luxurious. We are actively holding back on the UK market at the moment but globally the brand is doing really well.
If you had any advice to give to graduating design students, what would it be?
Take chances. Don’t sit back and wait for the phone to ring. The best ambassador for your collection is you so shout about it! Try and have a unique selling point so that you can stand out from your competitors. If you’re showing at a graduate show, why not personally invite the buyer from your favourite store?