Eye Gandy

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

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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.”

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