Sir Paul Smith used to be a licensed taxi driver.

The 71-year-old designer set up his eponymous label in 1970, but he has admitted he has also had a very different career as he has completed ''The Knowledge'', which is thorough training drivers undertake to get their licence, and worked as a taxi driver for ''25 years'' but ''only'' on the weekends.

Speaking about his other jobs to Esquire Online, the creative mastermind said: ''Of course, when I did 'The Knowledge'... I was a taxi driver for 25 years -- but only at the weekend.''

But before Paul became a notable figure in the fashion business he had dreamed of being a professional racing cyclist until he suffered a major accident.

He added: ''Well, I did anything that came along to earn money, which I think has given me the skill of doing lots of things. I was a racing cyclist from the age of 12 to 18 and you learn that you do have a competitive spirit and you learn about teamwork, which has helped me enormously having 180 people in this building. I don't think I'm really competitive but I do have a survival instinct, which is, 'Well, we'll just work it out then.'''

But Paul believes his label is ''very solid'' and has withstood a number of difficulties over time.

Speaking about his brand, the businessman said: ''I had my business when there was the coal miners' strike in the Eighties and the three-day week, when you had to have a generator for the rest of the week. And I managed to always do well through these things. So, we're not going anywhere incidentally, we're very solid, it's just you're witnessing a time which is different to what you've witnessed before.''

And Paul has credited himself as a ''pioneer'' in the industry as he introduced additional products to his company, which encouraged other brands to follow suit.

He said: ''The owners of both Colette in Paris and 10 Corso Como in Milan have both independently said that our way of running a shop was the influence for their shops, which was having not just clothes. So I suppose, without realising it, I was the absolute pioneer of all that, really.''