David Gandy outside the Burberry Prorsum menswear show at LC: M autumn/winter 2015
It's London Collections: Men this week (men's biannual fashion showcase for those who don't know), and it's big business. The menswear market contributed £12.9bn to the UK economy last year according to Mintel. So who better to grill on what to watch than one of the event's most influential ambassadors - and the world's most famous male supermodel - David Gandy.
We talk to him about the one fashion item every man should buy, the politics on the front row - and why he's casting aside his legendary white pants for shoes.
How do you decide what to wear for LC: M?
I have suits made. I don't look at trends or the latest fashions. I know what works for me and this doesn't change very much. Some looks at LC:M have worked and some I look at like 'what was I thinking? Did I get dressed in the dark that morning?' But that’s me, I'm still learning and exploring what style works. I always try and be a little different and I also try to wear British brands and designers that I believe are the best.
Have you upped your style-ante since becoming an ambassador?
Because of the success of the showcase and the increased coverage, pictures of the ambassadors can reach tens of millions of people, there is certainly a little more pressure now than when it first started. I might try a few subtle changes and ideas, but fundamentally my style and basics of styling will never change.
David Gandy in his signature polished tailoring between shows at LC: M autumn/winter 2015
You recently bought the footwear brand, David Preston, which is launching at LC: M. Do you plan to leave modelling and move into the business side of fashion?
I have said that I won't be doing as much modelling in the future, but this has been a strategic plan for many years now. I don't model for many brands, I choose three or four that I collaborate with each year. I have a say on the styling, the creative and the direction. I’ve always preferred being behind the camera than in front of it, this doesn't mean I want to be a photographer, but I've always loved coming up with creative ideas for shoots, film and the direction of brands. There are many British male models who deserve the chance that I had many years ago and if I can help develop and mentor the next generation, I would love to.
Do you hope one day to become chairman of LC: M?
This is something I have never really thought about. I will certainly give as much time and support to LC: M as I can, as I have done since it started. I truly believe that the British fashion industry is the best in the world, but we need to invest in British talent, we need to support not just young designers but struggling established names.
Do you think many men still believe: 'If you’re a man, you can’t love fashion'?
Every day of the week a man will make a fashion decision. They may think they have no interest in it whatsoever, but they will have made a conscious decision to choose the items they're wearing. The fit, the colours, the brands are all a fashion choice. But I do see how fashion can look like a scary industry to an outsider. But I have always tried to make it much more tangible for a man on the outside.
Barbour's autumn/winter 2015 LC: M presentation (Barbour available at all Fenwick stores)
What do you love most about British menswear?
It does not have the pretentiousness of other fashion industries around the world. We have the perfect mix of history and tradition with the best new fashion-forward designers in the world. No other fashion week or industry can boast that.
Is London the most influential style capital?
I think LC:M has certainly put London in the right direction, this is because it has given a platform to so many young brands and designers that will shape the fashion industry in years to come and the schedule increases every year.
Who has taught you the most about fashion?
I’ve been lucky enough to work with some of the best creatives - both designers and stylists - in the world. But really I get my inspiration from history, from reading, from watching films etc.
David Gandy with Oliver Cheshire at the opening of LC: M autumn/winter 2015
What secrets have you picked up to dressing well?
I try to keep my style as simple as possible. I hopefully have learnt what cut, fit and style complement my body type and how I feel most comfortable. I have never followed trends, if anything I try to go against the grain and be a little more individual. Due to globalisation and the internet, everyone has availability to anything they want, in many way this has advantages. However it can lead to the loss of individuality. This is why I adore bespoke tailoring, especially British tailors who I believe are the best in the world. You can create one-off items, not just suits, that no one else will have.
When it comes to tailoring, which cut do you currently favour?
Every suit I have made is different. They may be subtle changes but they can make a huge difference. I’m known for my three-piece suits, however in summer these are not always comfortable, so I tend to have unstructured two-piece suits or double breasted jackets made. I don't favour one particular cut of suit, it all depends on the type of suit, the occasion and the time of year.
Gandy reworking a three-piece suit at LC: M autumn/winter 2015
What accessories can we expect to see you wearing?
I have four suits being made by various tailors and brands but how I wear them and with what accessories, I will decide on the morning before the shows. Suiting to me is about having the correct size and cut - get this right and you don't need much else.
And tell us your grooming rituals...
There are a few basics that men should stick to. Moisturiser is most important morning and evening (I like Dr Lancer's products). A serum or rose/vitamin C oil at night and that’s about it. You can take this further with a skin scrub once a week but it’s not essential.
Robert Konjic and David Gandy at the LC: M GQ magazine dinner
Is it as competitive on the front row as it is at the womenswear shows?
The beauty of men’s fashion, especially over the others mens’ fashion weeks around the world, is the camaraderie between everyone. The shows are not about the individuals and exposure of the people on the front row. LC:M is about supporting the established and new designers, and, more importantly, showing the world that Britain is a major force within the fashion world.
Whose frow style do you admire?
Tinie Tempah gets it right with every look. He mixes his style effortlessly. He doesn't do anything outrageous or try too hard, but knows what works and has a signature style. Dan Rookwood is a journalist who I've also always admired at LC:M. He knows what works, and his cut of suits and style is masterly.
Tinie Tempah on the red carpet at the Burberry Prorsum menswear show autumn/winter 2015 at LC: M
If our readers could go out and buy one thing to up their style game what would you recommend?
A three-piece suit. You can then separate all the pieces and wear them individually…. you can dress it up or down, therefore you have a huge number of looks from one purchase.
Will you carry anything to alleviate the boredom between shows?
I try to go to as many shows and presentations as possible. There are 77 this season so there will not be a lot of time for boredom. While I am waiting for the shows to start there are always plenty of interviews to carry out.
Finally, which show are you most looking forward to?
Oliver Spencer. His stand out as they are a true spectacle. There is always a surprise. The fashion is a great mix between the traditional and contemporary and the models cast are all individuals. They have a presence and add a unique take to each look.
Fenwick Bond Street and Brent Cross will be celebrating LC: M throughout the event from June 12 to 15
David Gandy's quickfire essentials:
For footwear? David Preston Chelsea boots
For every day? Thom Sweeney
For basics? White T-shirt, Emma Willis shirts, London Sock Co socks
For denim? Denham
For grooming? Rose Oil. Dr Lancer moisturiser
For accessorising? Bailey Nelson glasses
For keeping in touch? Samsung phone