His looks and easy masculinity have earned him global recognition, while his entrepreneurial nous has brought business success. Chloe Street meets David Gandy, the Essex man’s man with the Midas touch
Photography oing into a shop can be a scary prospect for men,” says David Gandy, the British supermodel whose buff, masculine physique was at odds with the waif-like, androgynous models in vogue when he landed his first contract in 2001. “People see fashion weeks and the shows and it’s not an attainable thing for them. I see my role as being the link between the shows and the guy on the street.”
And he’s got the eye and the experience for it. Fifteen years since his first booking—which came after he won a modelling competition a friend secretly entered him in—the 36-year-old Essex export is the second-highest-paid male model in the world and one of the few to have achieved wealth and celebrity akin to that of his female counterparts. He has walked for most major brands and featured in all the big glossies. He’s been the face of Dolce & Gabbana’s Light Blue for almost a decade and, since 2012, has partnered with Marks & Spencer and become an ambassador for Johnnie Walker Blue Label.
Gandy is on a mission to help men dress better. Understanding that they “often find it quite hard to know what to wear on holiday,” last year he added an entire stylish but affordable holiday wardrobe to the David Gandy for Autograph range he designs with Marks & Spencer. The line, which was launched in June 2014 and initially consisted of underwear and sleepwear, “did and is still doing ridiculously well,” says Gandy. “Now I have 6 per cent of the UK men’s underwear market, so we are very proud of that.” When swimwear joined the range, a pair of David Gandy trunks sold every minute on the collection’s first day in stores, and three sizes sold out entirely within two weeks, making it M&S’S fastest-selling menswear line ever. Gandy’s holiday style tips? “I think people should wear whatever they like. That said, I don’t think shorts are particularly appropriate for cities or for dinner, and I’d always choose espadrilles over flip-flops.”
When it comes to his own holidays, Gandy is too restless to laze on a beach—“i love the idea of it but I get a bit bored,” says the 6’3” model, whose childhood holidays involved spotting orangutans in Borneo, walking the Inca trail to Machu Picchu in Peru and exploring Amazonian rainforests. “My parents always educated me and my sister through travel.” He recalls a particularly hair-raising experience in Africa when a nighttime trip to the loo was nearly the end of him. “We were in this completely open camp and I thought, ‘Oh, I’ve been to Africa a few times, I’m sure I’ll be fine.’ I was walking with just my torch and this rhino came hurtling past and missed me by about an inch.”