The collector: Paul Smith, Designer, London.
The collection: Cycle racing jerseys.
Paul Smith is a collector we have long admired. He is also an avid cycling fan and over the years has accumulated a large collection of cycling jerseys, many of them gifts from professional cyclists and friends. We were delighted when Paul agreed to give us an exclusive insight into his remarkable collection.
The story behind the collection...
It's difficult to choose just one collection to show you because I have huge collections of many things including clocks, watches, car speedometers, bicycles, ghetto blasters, magazines, stamps, sugar lumps and Japanese advertising memorabilia, to name just a few, but the collection I have chosen to show you today is my cycle racing jerseys.
At the age of 11 I was bought a racing bike for my birthday. At the age of 12 I started racing. This continued to be my passion untll I had a bad bike accident at the age of 17 and spent 3 months in hospital with lots of broken bones. When I came out of hospital I was still not able to ride for a while but met up with the other ex-patients that I had met on my ward. They introduced me to a pub in my hometown of Nottingham called The Bell Inn, which at the time was frequented by all the students from the local art college. After several visits I got to speak to not only my friends but a lot of the students who were studying architecture, photography, graphic design, art and fashion. Slowly I got very interested in the whole world of creativity and even helped one of the students start a clothes shop. I worked for her for 6 years, and then opened my own shop with a small amount of savings. So, as you can see I literally fell into fashion! I met one of the teachers from the art school who then became my wife. She was a trained fashion designer from London's Royal College of Art and she taught me everything I know. I went on to become a designer and slowly developed my business to where it is today... and the rest as they say is history!
My passion for cycling never faltered though and I am privileged to have met many of the professional cyclists from today and the past. Many of them have given me some of their vests from various races - the Tour de France, Giro d'Italia, the World Championships and many more.
I collect them because of their association, the memories they hold of certain races, and the friendships I have made with riders like sprinter Mark Cavendish for instance.
I have a lot! It sounds a little odd but they almost collected themselves. Many of them have been sent to me or dropped in by riders and friends. The collection started many years ago but has accelerated more recently.
I attempt to keep them folded in my extremely full studio but as people always want to come and look at them, to tell the truth they are mostly piled up in a box.
I don't really have a favourite but probably the most special ones are from the Tour de France and the yellow and pink jersery from the Giro d'Italia signed by the winner Alberto Contador. Also the World Championship jerseys from Bradley Wiggins, Thor Hushovd, Chris Hoy and Nicole Cook.
Mark Cavendish's girlfriend Peta recently came to visit me at my studio, bringing with her Mark's green jersey for the best sprinter from the Tour de France. That was really fantastic.
view Paul Smith's blog here
Obsessionistas would like to thank Paul Smith for these exclusive insights into his collection and access to these images.
Images by kind permission of Paul Smith © 2011.