​paul smith is the latest designer to combine mens and womenswear

The British designer has also reduced the number of lines to two collections each with four drops per year.

by Charlotte Gush
|
09 February 2016, 3:40pm

Paul Smith is the latest designer to announce that he will be combining menswear and womenswear, as well as scaling back diffusion lines to just one combined collection. The main line Paul Smith collection will feature suits, dresses and cashmere; diffusion line PS by Paul Smith will consist of polos, sweaters and jeans. Each line will have four combined womenswear and menswear store drops per year.

"I think the world has gone mad," Paul Smith told BoF. "There's this absolute horrendous disease of greed and over-expansion and unnecessary, massive over-supply of product," he says. Of the restructure, Smith explains, "We're completely aware of what we're doing. It's not scary, it's just a readjustment. There must be so many brands out there that are just locked into this formula that they can't get out of and I just said, 'We're stopping that. We're not doing that anymore.'"

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Smith also describes how customer desires and his label's offer has already become more gender-fluid: "The feedback we keep getting is can the women's have the spirit of the men's. So wherever possible, we use the same color palette. If it's a double-breasted jacket for men, we have the same for women, the same cut and the trousers. There's a coat called an Epsom coat that we do for both. So we are trying to bring them closer together -- which was the original concept."

Despite combining menswear and womenswear in both the main line and PS collections, Paul Smith will continue to show the garments separately: menswear in Paris, womenswear in London, and another show at London Collections: Men, of which Smith says, "To be frank, we do to support Britain. We don't need to do it at all." "The practical reason for different shows is that the audiences are different," Smith explains, "there are men's shops and women's shops, men's buyers and women's buyers, men's press and women's press and so on."

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With similar moves to combine menswear and womenswear by Burberry, Vetements and a many others, stores increasingly abandoning gender segregation and publications regularly discussing just how arbitrary this distinction is becoming for consumers, how long the practical reasons for holding separate shows will last remains to be seen.

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