‘Fashion is fuelled by passions elsewhere.’
Delighted to be a guest at The Industry London’s exclusive networking event last Wednesday, it was fascinating to listen to David Gandy in conversation with Hilary Alexander, answering questions about his successful career as the world’s only male supermodel. However, with a keen interest in the growth of British menswear and the future of men’s global fashion, there were a number of menswear-related questions I was eager to ask him myself...
|David Gandy. Photo Credit: Sam Atkinson for The Industry|
It can be a common misconception that the fashion world exists in isolation, so it was great to hear David talk about his equal passion for fashion and cars and how fashion can relate to men through other industries. As a self-confessed car aficionado, modelling is only one aspect of David’s life, and he admits that one of the best things about his job is the other opportunities and interests that modelling has enabled him to pursue.
Arriving at The Old Sorting Office for last month’s London Collections: Men driving a classic Morgan car for example, David demonstrated how effortlessly the worlds of fashion and motoring can coalesce. The extraordinary excitement generated around the car during his arrival and departure shows that fashion is indeed enriched by other passions; proving to men that fashion is neither scary nor inaccessible.
|Photo Credit: The Morgan Motor Company|
|Photo Credit: The Morgan Motor Company|
Writing a popular blog for Vogue.co.uk, contributing as a writer for Man about Town (one of my personal favourite men’s publications) and reviewing cars for GQ, David establishes a voice through which he can express and unite his interests in cars, fashion and other passions in his life, without being in front of the camera. As part of the discussion on Wednesday I enjoyed hearing his animated account of a recent Jaguar trip with Yasemin Le Bon, in which the duo participated in The Mille Miglia in Italy, racing 1000 miles in what David described as one of the toughest but greatest adventures of his life.
Keen to ask David about his observations of the augmentation of the menswear industry, until the inaugural London Collections: Men, he had noticed a gradual expansion of the menswear market since the start of his career. However, thanks to the resounding success of LC:M, he has seen interest in British menswear explode in the last few years.
LC:M attracts incredible global attention to British fashion talent, and David commented that the Asian market is a very important menswear market, not just for the world, for Britain, too. David believes that when it comes to individuality, British designers have the edge over anywhere else, with a wealth of young, fashion-forward designers shaping the future of innovative British design, fuelling a market which continues to get bigger and better.
Interested in emerging menswear designers, I asked David which menswear brands he thinks are particularly exciting for the future, and right now he believes that one of the best tailors in the world is Thom Sweeney. I have a thing for quality suits and tailoring (those who know me well will vouch for this!) and Thom Sweeney first really caught my attention when David Beckham arrived at the London 2012 Olympics in a speed boat, wearing an exquisite Thom Sweeney two-piece wool suit and silk tie.
|Thom Whiddet and Luke Sweeney. Photo Credit: Thom Sweeney|
|Photo Credit: Thom Sweeney|
I love how every Thom Sweeney suit is perfectly tailored to the personality and individuality of each client, whether the client is a lawyer, journalist, model, financer, T.V presenter or artist. The exhilarating new world of bespoke which has been created by Thom Whiddet and Luke Sweeney encapsulates the ultimate in luxurious craftsmanship and quality, and as David pointed out, if you turn on your T.V and see a great suit, it's most likely Thom Sweeney. I could go on to say a lot more about Thom Sweeney tailoring, but I will save further thoughts for a dedicated post!
David is an ambassador for Thom Sweeney, but he is also determined to keep men’s fashion accessible to everyone and he has long been a devoted advocate of M&S. Proud of British heritage, he is particularly excited by the M&S Best of British range to be launched by M&S in autumn in partnership with the British Fashion Council. First presented at LC:M in June, there could not have been a better occasion to showcase the modern yet unapologetically British collection characterised by tweeds, checks and British materials to celebrate the best of British design and manufacture.
David mentioned that a lot of men aren’t aware that this sort of style and quality exists on the highstreet, and of the 44-piece premium collection modelled by Oliver Cheshire (excellent casting), the double-breasted men’s overcoat and Donegal-tweed two-piece suit are a few of my favourite capsule pieces. Encompassing a broad range of classic consumers as well as an increasing growth in the under 35 market, the M&S brand is pushing their style aspect further with this collection and it will be interesting to gauge its popularity when it goes on sale in October 2013.
|Donegal-tweed suit. Photo Credit: M&S.|
|Overcoat. Photo Credit: M&S|
Men's fashion is ever-expanding, with more men taking an interest in their personal style and an increasing number of high-profile men from different industries such as sport and acting becoming closely associated with fashion. Asking him about role models, David thinks that the topic of role models in fashion is interesting; he’s not sure you can aspire to be in fashion as much as an industry such as sport for example, however, he believes that fashion can still be incredibly inspiring for men.
There is now so much inspiration out there for men with an interest in style that it can seem quite intimidating, so David tries to make fashion tangible for everyone, conscious not to alienate any man from fashion. What he has always tried to do is to simplify fashion for men, and his style guide app serves to provide some much needed straightforward advice on how to build a wardrobe for every occasion.
Women have long had access to a preponderance of information about fashion, where stylish celebrity and street-style looks are regularly recreated for different budgets in 'Get the Look' type edits. Yet men also look at contemporary style icons and often think ‘how do they do that?’, so it is a brilliant idea to make shopping and style as uncomplicated as possible for men, too. Of course, some men enjoy styling for themselves, but many are grateful to have complete outfits edited and pieced together for them so that all they have to do is go online and click to buy.
Compared to the saturated womenswear market, the fast-growing, underserved menswear market looks set for a dynamic and lucrative future. I agree with David that there aren't many stores dedicated solely to menswear; however, as the emergence of men’s-only flagship stores across the luxury segment begin to pave the way for the burgeoning menswear market, there's a good chance highstreet stores will follow suit, to give men more choice than ever before.
Thank you to The Industry for hosting the event; it was wonderful to meet David in person and I am extremely grateful for his insightful answers to my menswear questions. Thank you, David!