About

Jeff Banks is a renowned Welsh designer of both men's and women's clothing, jewellery, and home furnishings.

Jeff Banks was born in 1943 in Ebbw Vale, Wales, U.K. His sheet metal worker father left his mother when Banks was aged eight, and she resultantly decided to move to London, England.

Offered a scholarship to independent grammar school St Dunstan's College in Catford, South London, his mother couldn't afford the uniform so he got a round delivering paraffin on a wheelbarrow - by aged 13 he had employed a man to drive a lorry based tanker, and sold the business aged 15.

Encouraged by a teacher to study art and become a painter, he realised his art skills were limited during his first year at London's Camberwell School of Art, and so transferred to studying interior design and latterly textiles at Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design from 1959 to 1962. He then went to the United States, where he studied at the Parsons School of Design, in New York.

Banks holds honorary degrees from the University of Lancaster, East London, Newcastle & Northumbria, University College for the Creative Arts, and the University of Westminster, and is a Doctor of Arts.

In 1964, with money saved from the paraffin business and his father mortgaging his own home, Banks opened the boutique Clobber in London, where he sold garments of his own designs as well as those designed by others.

It proved to be such a success that in 1969, he launched his own fashion label.

In 1975 he opened the first standalone Jeff Banks shop in London, as well as retail outlets in twenty-two department stores, including Harrods and Harvey Nichols.

In 1974, he became involved with the establishment of the Warehouse Utility chain of shops which provides inexpensive fashions in bold colours, for a predominantly young market.

He has also worked freelance for a number of companies, including Liberty of London. Throughout the 1970's and 80's, Banks was completely in tune with contemporary fashion. With an imaginative use of inexpensive fabrics, he was able to provide young women with access to fashion without compromising taste.

After the Warehouse was taken over by retail chain Sears, he was sacked for being disruptive in board meetings - a decision he never regrets. In 1979 and 1981 Jeff became British Designer of the Year, and in 1980 he was made British Coat Designer of the Year.

Banks' standing as a commercial force in retail fashion led to his presenting over 320 episodes of The Clothes Show, the BBC's long-running fashion show, alongside Selina Scott and Caryn Franklin. The show's success of often gaining over 10million viewers, led in 1989 to the first "Clothes Show Live" event at the NEC Birmingham, as well as the launch of the Clothes Show magazine.

In 2000 the food chain Sainsbury's hired Jeff Banks in a bid to stay ahead of the supermarket trend for selling non-food items. Jeff and Co. clothes went on sale in 76 stores and had just begun breaking through the one million pound a week mark. But in 2003 Sainsbury's terminated Banks contract in October. Jeff feels that Saisbury's wants to reap the profits without paying him anything, and he plans to take legal action against them unless he gets "well in excess of ten million pounds" that he feels he is due.

However finally he agreed to take a compensation package of 1 million pounds and a box of chocolates every week.

He has continued to work as a designer with designs for the Guide Association, the England football team, and recently for London's 2012 Olympics bid, which were modelled at the launch by Sir Bobby Charlton, Sir Steve Redgrave and Denise Lewis.

Banks has been married twice. First to the 1960's pop star Sandie Shaw, and subsequently, to Sue Mann, a model and makeup artist. He has converted to Buddhism.

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