DAVID GANDY: A MODEL BUSINESSMAN
We speak with male supermodel David Gandy on expanding his brand
By James York, 13 December 2012
It wouldn't be flattery to assert that, for the last six years, David Gandy has almost single-handedly defined the success of British male modelling. He's global, iconic and enjoys a reputation that towers above his nearest rivals. Latterly, it has taken Hollywood A-listers to bring such recognisable profile for other major campaigns. But he's no cliche, with an impressive biography that boasts a degree and your essex-boy-done-good credentials. This model is also an entrepreneur - not content with merely donning the finest garments. He's looked at his female peers and taken what he needs to replicate their success. And by doing it his own way he's fine tuning a damn good brand, one that could soon exceed any of those great Supermodels in its value. Why? Because he has his feet on the ground and understands the guy on the street.
We're speaking with him at the launch of his latest project. Hot on the heels of his highly successful fashion app, David Gandy Style Guide, is his personally crafted path to a male model-like physique. His body is a significant part of his business, and he won't accept that muscular confidence isn't there for the taking. That's right, you can now get it for a couple of quid and some hard work. Out now is his new and rather succinctly named app, David Gandy Fitness and Training.
David Gandy on the lack of high street representation
"I did the Style Guide a couple years ago, the David Gandy Style Guide. And that did very well, it got to number two behind Jamie Oliver in the lifestyle section. So I can see there's quite a demand there.
"Men and women always approach me and ask about my style. But even more so than the fashion and style was the fitness…It got to the point, you know, where there was a personal trainer that [sic] saw what I was doing and said: 'can I work with you just to get a few tips?' When a personal trainer is asking you that… you've got some sort of recognition that you're doing the right thing." Said Gandy, on his reasons for making the latest app.
Gandy is passionate about his subject matter. And whilst this is a business venture, a brand extension, he hasn't plunged his head in the champagne bucket. He's got strong ideas about why his app could be a competitive option in the ever expensive fitness and gym sector.
"The aim is to try to simplify it for men…I say to people that i've trained for 11 years through trial and error…People might say, that's wrong and that's wrong. But hopefully I am the evidence that it works. And i'm not saying other exercises don't work, this is what works for me." Said Gandy.
We're impressed by his ease and charm - probably learnt through his years of pacifying stylists and photographers. Perhaps it's just the inevitable confidence that comes from his success and security. Either way, it's the lateral thinking and the drive that's ringing the loudest. He's totally focused on doing something of lasting value. Whilst he doesn't say it directly, you get the feeling he's the one "Professional Footballer" who has actually looked at his cards and formulated a long term strategy. He's at his peak, unlikely to drift too far from his current profile, but watch out in the future.
"I had to sort of progress. Everyone coming into the modelling industry weren't actually models. People coming in for the top jobs, you know, they were actors, sportsman. Everyone took the mickey out of male models but at the same time everyone was coming in. Johnny Depp, Brad Pitt's just done Chanel, George Clooney. And everyone's doing it. You couldn't just be a male model, you had to be a brand.
"And, you know, I am a male model, and I am not ashamed to say that. But at the same time there are thousands and thousands of male models and you have to differentiate yourself from those. I'm also a bit of control freak…" Says Gandy.
But it's Hollywood that is proving the biggest threat to some of Gandy's global contract opportunities. A movie star endorsing fragrance is all but "the new norm". Perhaps these forays into apps and technology are being forced upon him? With A-listers encroaching on his territory, Gandy has been driven to diversify. Better that, though, than professional inertia. That doesn't mean his opinions of these newcomers and those booking them are muted.
"I can't really understand with Chanel [booking Brad Pitt] - with that. It's either brilliant because everyone's talking about it or it's just awful because everyone's talking about. I can't quite work out out which way it's turned, you know… For all that, it's worked out really well.
"I don't think anyone could do that. If you just had some unknown doing that for Chanel, it just wouldn't work. Of course in that situation you would have to have celebrity or an actor doing that." He adds.
In a competitive market, an attack on your core business often warrants a salvo in return. With a recognisable face, strong physique and British accent, one might argue that Gandy could be an outside contender for a new Bond. Has the lure and seduction of Hollywood been in his mind?
"But they came along and got me very excited. I'm very happy with this [modelling] industry. There's still so far to go and obviously being in the Olympics this year, I feel I've proved myself right…Everyone seems to be coming to the male fashion industry, so I don't know why we'd really want to go in the opposite direction." Said Gandy.
And he's not wrong. It was 2012 that heralded a first for London - one of fashion's avant garde cities. London Collections: Men arrived. A dedicated space and celebration of men's fashion. Gandy was heavily involved and is seizing upon the chance to compound that influence in 2013.
"I'd like to think the industry is changing. I've always tried to expand fashion…I still think there is a very elitist thing that goes on in fashion and people, they just don't find it tangible. Especially men.
"At the end of the day, i've worked with the best creators in the world. I've gained knowledge myself. But I want to be able to give that to the man on the street...If I can do it, essentially, anyone can.
"Really my aspiration is to go along the same lines as the supermodels. We all know Kate Moss as a brand…and that's exactly what we want." He adds.
Having been immersed in the high fashion world for a decade, and more, you'd think that Gandy would have been turned to clique. Snobbified into shunning the affordable and corralled into the pen of those "in the know". Not so. It seems that he's gone the opposite direction. He's seen the decadence and, likely, because of his roots, observed how it can sometimes seem out of touch.
"When you read men's magazines and fashion magazines, no one really represents high street fashion. That's because they don't advertise. If you don't advertise in magazines, at the end of the day, you don't get in them. Which to me isn't, sort of, saying to men "this is the best that's out there." Because we have Top Man and we have Reiss…It's not telling exactly what is out there for people that haven't got huge amounts of money.
"I go and shoot for someone and I go, "this is the most god-awful coat, why are we shooting this?". And they say, you know, they're great advertisers. And that's the reason why?" He said.
That's an attitude many men can, no doubt, relate to. It's also a balanced point of view from a man running on the inside track. How very refreshing. Were David Gandy to have his way and continue building this impressive influence and brand, you'd hear no complaints from us. The man on the street might finally have their champion in men's fashion - one with his feet on the ground and finger on the pulse.
The David Gandy Fitness and Training App will be available from iTunes App Store, Amazon App Store and Google Play Store priced £2.99.