‘I don’t really know anything about it’: Fashion tycoon Paul Smith fails to explain his company’s continued presence in Russia during Ukraine war
- Both Paul Smith and lingerie brand Agent Provocateur have Moscow stores open
- Rolls-Royce also has new cars for sale in Russia but claim they don’t know how
- A lobby group has called for his knighthood to be removed if stores remain there
British fashion powerhouse Paul Smith has failed to explain why his brand was continuing to operate in Russia – despite facing a furious backlash from MPs and his customers.
The Daily Mail revealed on Saturday that three British luxury companies were still doing business with Russia in the face of the continuing bloody war in Ukraine.
Paul Smith and lingerie brand Agent Provocateur still have stores open in Moscow, while Rolls-Royce has new cars for sale in the country but claims it does not know how they got there.
Entering his £7.5 million London mews house on Saturday, fashion designer Sir Paul Smith said he ‘didn’t really know anything about it’.
Paul Smith pictured at the weekend at his £7.5 million London pad where he said he ‘didn’t really know’ about his brand continuing to operate in Russia
The 76-year-old was awarded a CBE in 1994, was knighted in 2000 and was appointed a Member of the Order of the Companions of Honour in 2020 for his services to fashion.
But his company has repeatedly refused to explain its continued presence in Russia.
The Moral Rating Agency – a lobby group which judges companies on their response to the invasion of Ukraine – said: ‘Unless Russia is stripped of Paul Smith shirts, Paul Smith should be stripped of his knighthood. It’s a simple moral equation. No honours for dishonour.’
Chairman of the Commons defence committee Tobias Ellwood MP claimed that by refusing to withdraw their products, the brands were failing to stand up to Russian aggression.
A Paul Smith shop in Moscow, Russia, where it was revealed alongside with lingerie brand Agent Provocateur that they still have stores open in Moscow
He said: ‘Putin’s fate will ultimately be determined, not by results on the battlefield, but by tolerance of the Russian people who are seeing their own standards of living deteriorate as Russia is increasingly isolated. But this only works if the West is united.
‘When we see companies (brand names at that) failing to join the collective effort in standing up to Russia’s aggression it plays directly into Putin’s argument that the West is not committed and Russia will prevail.’
Meanwhile former culture secretary Sir John Whittingdale said it was ‘a matter of great concern’ that the brands were still trading with Russia, explaining: ‘Most British firms acted quickly to demonstrate that the horror and barbarism of what Putin is doing is unacceptable. Empty shelves send a very powerful message. I am very concerned about this and hope these companies will think again.’
The firms were accused of making ‘blood money’ online as hundreds flooded their social media pages with criticism. One wrote under a Paul Smith announcement of a new coat: ‘That’s beautiful! How many Ukrainian lives does it cost?’
Others claimed they were boycotting the brand, with one user commenting on the coat: ‘Will look good in Moscow… enjoy the blood money…’ On Sunday, within an hour of tweeting photos of a catwalk in Paris, someone asked ‘are you going to start printing Russian flags on your products as well?’
A closer look at some of the items you can buy inside the Paul Smith shop in Moscow
Meanwhile one user accused Agent Provocateur of selling ‘genocide lingerie’ while another wrote: ‘These look fantastic atop a pile of dead Ukrainian children… wait. Do the right thing.’
Under a photo of red underwear, one person tweeted: ‘Does the red dye come from Ukrainian blood?’
Rolls-Royce has five brand new cars for sale in Moscow but claimed: ‘Any new cars currently on sale in Russia were either built and delivered before March 2022, when Rolls-Royce stopped building cars for the Russian market, or they have been imported into Russia illegally by third parties.’
Paul Smith, Rolls-Royce and Agent Provocateur do not directly manage the stores in Moscow – which are instead run by franchisees or licencees under terms agreed prior to the invasion of Ukraine – but they do manufacture the stock being sold. The companies have been contacted for comment.
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