He’s been on catwalks in Milan and London, been styled for magazine shoots in Asia and America, and jetted all over the world in his role as a London Collections: Men ambassador, but now David Gandy is headed into uncharted territory: your pants.
Following the success of Rosie Huntington Whiteley’s lingerie line for Marks & Spencer, Britain’s most famous male model has teamed up with the department store on his first line of underwear. Launching this week online and at the M&S flagship shop at Marble Arch in London, this will see Gandy jet off on another round of appearances around the world at branches on Dublin’s Grafton Street shop (19 September), Hong Kong’s Central Tower location (23 September) and Paris’ Champs Elysees store (25 September). It’s one of the biggest launches in the British brand’s history – and the first time M&S has globally launched a new range (soon it will be available in over 350 stores worldwide and online). No pressure, then.
However, even with such a packed schedule, the man very kindly made time to sit down with GQ to talk us through what’s coming in the 28-piece range, what makes it different from everything else on the high street, and why a selfie isn’t necessary is a thank you. If that wasn’t enough, we’ve also got an exclusive behind the scenes look at the design process, as well as the full photo campaign (warning: might induce gym guilt).
GQ: What was the most important thing for you when you began to design the underwear?
David Gandy: I wanted to keep things very subtle – I didn’t want loads of branding over everything. So I brought in a houndstooth, a very traditional pattern, but not many people have used it for underwear that I know of. That’s a bit of a nod to my love of traditional tailoring. The houndstooth is on the inside of the underwear band. And we’ve put it in on the inside of the pockets for the sleepwear and loungewear. And then we’ve used it all-over for the dressing gown, which is a very old school design with traditional piping.
Is there anything that you discovered about underwear while you were designing it?
Well I knew what I liked and what I didn’t like already, but I had to learn quite quickly all the intricacies of why that was – why some rise up, why some are less supportive, why the shape doesn’t work as well. And you’re talking about differences of millimetres of material that makes one piece of underwear different from the next piece.
Which piece do you like the best?
We have a very traditional pair of cotton weave boxer shorts, very old school, which I absolutely love. People can wear them as underwear, but I think they’re probably better as a loungy pair of pants to wear around your house – something your girlfriend would steal.
Your career has been based on not wearing very much. Was the campaign shoot for your underwear pretty straightforward?
Well, the [Dolce & Gabbana] Light Blue image is from eight years ago, back in 2006. And other than that I’ve only done the Dolce underwear campaign in 2009, so actually there have only been two photo shoots of me in underwear and that’s it. It’s not something I’ve done a lot of, it’s just that that Light Blue image has become so well known.
And technically it wasn’t underwear, per se…
Yes, you’re correct. Everyone referred to them as white pants, but they were actually white Speedos. Very mediterranean.
What’s different about your pants compared to everything else on the high street?
The premium materials that we’re using, the supima cotton we’ve used with Lycra is a very new thing for M&S. I wanted it to feel high quality.
Is there more to come?
The new range I’m currently designing for next year, so that’s spring/summer . Basically the core is there and I want to see how people react to that. Hopefully there are T-shirts and more lightweight fabrics coming soon. I imagine about 5 or so pieces will be added each season.
Do you want to go into outer levels of clothing too?
It’s definitely something I’ve been considering. Over the past couple of years I’ve had people approach me about collaborations, but they were never quite right. This one was right because I wanted to work for a British brand and they’re becoming few and far between – and M&S are the underwear experts. I have a great love of design, especially tailoring – so suits are something I’d love to get my teeth into. There’s a hell of a lot of talent out there, so this is me just dipping my toe in the water.
We would say you must be looking forward to seeing people in your designs after all your hard work, but I suppose with an underwear range that’s not strictly true…
[Laughs] Yes, that’ll be fine – I don’t need a selfie!
Might we see you around town for London Fashion Week?
No, I’ll be heading around the world to promote this. I never really do much for women’s fashion week, I leave that to the girls. To tell you the truth, I’ve never quite understood why lots of male celebs will sit there watching the women’s shows. Are you really interested or are you just there to check out the girls…which is what I do, to be honest!
From £15. Available from 18 September online and at Marks & Spencer, 458 Oxford St, London W1 (with a personal appearance and customer signing at 12pm). marksandspencer.com