Tuesday, October 28, 2014

David Gandy: "My M&S Collaboration"

"Laugh and the world laughs with you; snore, and you sleep alone!"
Anthony Burgess.
 

 By David Gandy

There was even less sleep than usual over the last few weeks and that wasn't just during the eight days of travel to four different countries for the worldwide launch of my underwear collection with Marks & Spencer - David Gandy for Autograph. To be honest, the long haul flight for the Hong Kong leg was a blessing and the most sleep I've had in quite a while! Maybe it was because of the slight feeling of relief that the London and Dublin signings had gone well - or was it because of the delicious Gavi di Gavi that BA kept topping up my glass with? Either way, everything soon got back to normal on the return flight to Paris, as everyone was tucked up fast asleep whilst I sat with my little light on catching up on the latest series of Mad Men, whilst replying to the mountains of emails that had come through during our travels.

My broken sleep started two weeks prior to the launch. Launching the collection is the beginning of many firsts for me. It's the first time that I've collaborated with a brand on a clothing line, my first foray into the designing world and the first time that I have put my name to a collection. It's one of the largest projects that I've taken on in my career and although I've been hugely excited and honoured, a project of this size naturally brings with it a little apprehension.

There was some scepticism about exactly how much input I'd had into the collection which is understandable as there are a lot of celebrity collaborations these days and each person has a different level of involvement. But those people who know me well will know I wouldn't ever put my name to something that I wasn't fully involved in, in every single part of the process. I've probably driven the designers and the brand crazy with wanting to be so involved, but thankfully they have been so wonderful to work with and very open to a full collaboration, so it's been a great relationship that we've all enjoyed. 

The design ideas behind the underwear developed from a vintage pair of hipsters that I had many years ago and loved. Even though I stopped wearing them, I kept them safe knowing that if ever the day came when I designed my own underwear line, elements of these would be at the heart of the initial inspirations - classic but sexy, comfortable with discreet branding, and made from soft premium materials. And there it began. I wanted the underwear to appeal to all ages and to all demographics, so the collection would include everything from traditional briefs and woven cotton boxer shorts, to the most popular trunks and my personal favourites - the hipsters. The fit and comfort was one of the most important factors to me… I wanted them to feel like a second skin, almost like you aren't aware that you're wearing any. Even up to a couple of weeks before the launch I was still making improvements with the team and had friends, family and virtually every man at M&S testing them until we were satisfied that they were just as we'd planned.

This was only a small part of the process. I wanted the traditional houndstooth pattern to be a subtle but distinctive element of the collection, from the linings of the pockets and flies, to the waistbands of the underwear and even down to the packaging and campaign imagery. From there we worked on the neck lines of the T shirts and cut of the lounge pants and cuffed jogging bottoms. There was even one whole morning dedicated to the colour and width of the drawstring on the lounge and sleepwear. Come to think of it, I'm surprised the design team are still talking to me.

What everyone has commented on is the coverage that the campaign received, driven by the months of scrupulous planning by the PR and marketing team. I can safely say that I wasn't the only person with sleepless nights! Four fully covered buses, 300 bus advertisements, 700 bus stop advertisements, international magazine covers, various features, product placement, television and radio appearances, and plenty of online activity too. We have had a huge amount of support, all of which I'm very grateful for.

The biggest and most welcome surprise though was the hundreds of people that so kindly came and supported me on the launch days in London, Dublin, Hong Kong and Paris. It was quite overwhelming that so many people were there and that so many had travelled vast distances to come and meet me. I would love to say thank you to everyone that has supported me during this whole process. From the people wishing me luck before the launch, to the many people who have ordered and bought some of the collection and kindly told me how much they love the items and to everyone who came and supported me on the launch days - it was so lovely to put so many faces to names that I have only known through social media. And big thanks to the team who have facilitated and worked hard to create the collection and whose input has brought the project to life.

To see the dressing gown and cuffed lounge pants sold out on the first day was a really proud moment. I always had faith in the range and I knew that we were using some of the most premium cottons available, that the fit was good, and that the campaign shot by Marianno Vivanco was some of the best work we've done together, but it wasn't until I saw the empty racks of the range on that first day at Marble Arch Marks & Spencer that I could truly believe that the day we'd all worked so hard towards was actually happening.

So, what now? Well, believe it or not I'm already working with the designers of M&S to create the spring and summer editions which I'm really enjoying. Let's hope that the designers will say the same! After that, I'm taking a holiday… my first in two years. I've incorporated a shoot into it so there will be some work involved, but I'm very much looking forward to it all the same.

By British Vogue

And future projects? Well there are various activities in the pipeline which is exciting. But I had a thought the other day - wouldn't it be nice to break a world record?

Something to do with speed would be fun, but that's as far as I've got. All suggestions welcome.

Thanks again for your ongoing support, it's much appreciated.

Source: Vogue Today

Related Content: (DjG Video) Highlights of 2014 'Gandy for Autograph' Worldwide Tour 

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