For all the quirkiness and international success of his menswear - they revere him in Japan where his company has 320 outlets - Smith has never lost sight of the traditional shopkeeper's values that have kept him at the forefront of British fashion for decades.
It is perhaps not surprising that Sir Paul Smith should be standing in the gigantic new Apple store in London's Covent Garden, answering questions about his global business empire. He is good friends with Apple design guru Jonathan Ive and is one of the highly select individuals who regularly receive new products from the super-secretive Cupertino outfit before they hit the shops.
And while he is keen to point out to the attentive crowd that most of the designs for his 12 six-monthly collections are roughed out by his team in some way using a MacBook Pro, he still designs and makes notes using a pencil and pad: 'I never stop writing myself notes,' he says. 'I've got shoe boxes full of notebooks ...'