MANILA, Philippines - More than half a decade ago, when the fashion industry was all agog over the skinny and androgynous as the look of the moment, one model broke the mold. His muscular build changed the way people see male models. When that model came out in Dolce and Gabbana’s “Light Blue” campaign wearing nothing but skimpy white Speedos in all his well-buffed naked glory, he made history. Meet David Gandy.
From then on, his career has skyrocketed a thousand times. Magazine covers left and right, countless campaign endorsements, and even numerous industry awards. He is currently considered as one of the best -dressed men in the world and also recognized for his charity work worldwide.
David Gandy is the new face of SM Men’s Fashion, sharing the throne with Sarah Jessica Parker for SM Ladies. Supreme sits down with one of the world’s most successful male supermodels as he talks about style, social media, and why you should never follow trends.
By David Milan
Supreme: What was your first impression of the Philippines before coming here?
David Gandy: I didn’t know a huge amount about it. I read up on the history of the country before I came. What interests me is it seems to be, at one point, sort of invaded or taken over by everyone — by the Spanish, the English, the Japanese, and the Americans. Absolutely, there’s a mixture of everything. It’s a beautiful country. The beaches, hopefully the next time I’m back, I think I’m going see them for sure.
What can you say about Philippine fashion?
I have seen a little bit so far, snippets of it. I think it’s going through a lot of globalization so a lot of people are dressed the same as everywhere else in the world. So when I came to the Philippines, it’s quite a lot like everywhere else. Although the climate is astonishing here so you have to dress accordingly. There’s a lot of individualism happening, which I like. It’s nice to see people here with amazing outfits. I think it’s also because you can have them very quickly made here, which is interesting. Also, then SM men’s fashion, which I’ve seen a lot when we did the shoot and the show seems to cover a huge, huge expanse of some sort of classics to trendy.
How did the collaboration with SM start? What made you say yes?
They approached us. They approached my agency and we’ve been looking to expand in Asia, to expand my brand and make retail a lot more tangible globally. It might not be obvious for some people to come to the Philippines, but Sarah Jessica Parker also did it with SM which I think is a good thing.
Growing up, did you ever have an awkward phase?
Yeah, I mean everyone does. I was 16 or 17 then and I was actually quite a little bit fatter than I should’ve been. And then I grew up. So yeah, there were awkward stages. It’s not like you just bloom right away. I think everyone now, younger guys and girls are much more interested in fashion. It’s easier for them since they have more access to the Internet. I mean, back then I was sporty. I dressed sporty and that was it, but you gradually adapt after sometime.
What’s the best thing about your job?
I consider everything I do as the best. With the mountain of stuff I do now, not one day is the same as the other. I get very bored very, very easily. You see one day I’m in the Philippines, then next time in London, then I’ll be doing my charity stuff, then I’ll be writing and then I’m off to LA. There’s not one day that’s the same. And I’m thankful for it.
What’s the most non-model trait about you?
A lot. For me, it’s a job. I’m more focused now on my branding as being a model. And, of course, with my branding, I’m sort of considered as a ”style icon” so you get scrutinized for what you wear every day. Every day becomes your business.
If you weren’t a model, what would you be?
Difficult to say so. It’s really impossible to look back. I majored in journalism in college and I’m glad I get to do writing now for GQ, The Telegraph, etc.
What inspires you?
Anything inspires me. I have always been quite driven. There’s a checklist in my head of things that I want to achieve. So, after modeling, there’s branding, and then I went to do charities. After that, there’s a certain amount of things as well. I did the races, the Mille Miglia Race, which is a thousand-mile race around Italy and I wanted to tick that one off the list and did just that. I also got my racing license last year. So, to keep expanding, I think you should have goals, so there’s always something to achieve next.
Who are your style icons?
My style icons are very old school. Paul Newman, Cary Grant, James Dean. I look back at history more than getting any sort of inspiration from trends or from the runway.
What’s your take on fast fashion?
People think that just because they’re buying a trend immediately, that’s fashion. They might not see that, but I think you have to be an individual and realize what works for you and what doesn’t. I think it’s about setting a trend and having the confidence to do that and moving away from the groups of people who dress the same. Personally, I’m not trend-driven. I do the exact opposite of what most people do.
Are you active in social media?
We’re active in Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter. I think that is a major way to connect to the world. I have a team who helps me handle my accounts. I have three businesses and it’s inevitable so that we can expand the brand and be reached everywhere worldwide. But personally tweeting and all that, no I don’t do that.
What piece of clothing can’t you live without?
What are the things you consider before signing to endorse a certain a brand like SM?
A collaboration really. It’s about the company. Not so much about the clothes because it can change very, very quickly. That can be changed just like that, but it’s the collaboration. It’s the vision of the company and where they want to take it and whether they’d like to collaborate over a long period.
What’s your most memorable experience as a model?
Many. I’ve been modeling for 13 years. This here now is a memorable experience. It’s my first time in Asia and to work with Asian wear — this is definitely one of them. There’s also the first shooting of Light Blue with Mario Testino and Dolce and Gabbana. I wouldn’t be here without it.
What legacy would you want to leave as a model?
As a model, it’s difficult to say. I think I’ve already probably done that. With modeling, I wanted to create an iconic image, an image that people will remember. That Light Blue image has become iconic. A lot from the fashion industry are trying to imitate that, trying to have the success we’ve had, which they haven’t yet. So yeah, I think I’ve done my part in the industry. I mean, personally I think after that, it’s with my charities, raising money for a lot of good causes.
How do you see yourself 10 years from now?
It’s impossible to say. Maybe less in front of the camera and quite more behind it. Maybe more creative directing and branding. No idea really. Maybe make my own clothing line. You never know.