Why the iconic `stripe’ pattern by menswear designer Paul Smith is always hard to ignore

By March 26, 2018 No Comments



Brit-wit designer Sir Paul Smith may not ring many bells on this side of the Pond, but you’ll be hard put to find an American who isn’t familiar with his bar code stripes in some shape or form.

Invented by a couple of graduate students from Philadelphia in the 1940s, the bar code itself was nothing but a product sticker with a bunch of crazy lines — until Paul Smith went and wrapped some thread around a strip of cardboard one day to see what the design looked like in multicolor.

The bar code pattern, born from this moment of random British eccentricity, found instant mass appeal, and decades later, it’s still covering everything from clothes and accessories to Evian mineral water bottles and Mini Cooper cars. “The symmetry of straight lines, interplay of multiple colors and variation in width is a powerful combination that’s hard to get bored of,” says mixed media artist Heather Reynolds.


SHOP THE LOOK: 1. Knitted Cotton Cardigan ($ 295) 2. Signature Wool-Cashmere Scarf ($ 125) 3. Leather Luggage Tag ($ 135) 4. Bone China Mug ($115) 5. Mini Calf Leather Keyring ($95) 6. Toweling Dressing Gown ($ 305) 7. Signature Striped Socks ($ 35) 8. Pocket Notebook ($ 30)

There’s possibly nothing manmade out there that cannot be Paul Smith striped with interesting results. Try Paul Smith striping your wall for instance…dramatic! Roll out a Paul Smith stripe living room rug to crazy it up a bit…stunning! Consider a Paul Smith stripe ottoman as your accent piece…eclectic!

If Sir Paul Smith hasn’t already done it himself, others have found inspiration in his stripes, modified them, and used them on every available surface. The motif supersedes Andy Warhol’s `Marilyn’ in its chroma attributes because it’s so hard to categorize. It can be pop art, glamorous, vintage, retro, minimal or classic – depending on how you use it.

And almost always, visually arresting.

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