David Gandy built a reputation for himself as a household name during his peak modeling years. Now, he’s off to develop his own brand, David Gandy Wellwear, and trying his hand at design.
David Gandy is well-known as one of the highest-paid models of all time. He began posing professionally in 2002, a year after he won a modeling contest on one of the UK’s oldest morning programmes thanks to a roommate who entered him without his knowledge. He was then chosen to represent Dolce & Gabbana in 2006. Just over ten years later, after being associated with some of the biggest names in the industry, Gandy separated himself from the world of modeling to try something new: a fashion and lifestyle brand that focuses on daily wellbeing, named David Gandy Wellwear.
The brand itself was founded on the scientific advantages of dressing in soft, comfortable apparel and draws inspiration from the supermodel’s 20 years of professional expertise. Gandy is the proprietor and creative force behind the fresh new project, which he conceptualized with the intention of offering customers environmentally-friendly apparel at a reasonable price that promotes general wellbeing and good health. The goal is to produce clothing that is durable, adaptable, and beneficial for the environment, and healthy for the body.
Exclusively for the Middle East, Gandy sat down to speak with Vogue Man Arabia for the first time on how he joined science and fashion in to come up with a brand that blends ecological principles with self-care, and how he created a line of clothing that uses aloe vera in the fabric and includes sustainability in every stage of its production process.
What is the core message of your brand?
Everything I do in my career is always approached with authenticity; from the brands I work with to the charities I partner with. And I wanted to ensure this was no different when starting my own brand. I have always looked after myself and many people assume this is because of the industry I’m in. But maintaining my mental and physical health has been a way of life for me long before I started modeling, and long before well-being became the popular phenomenon it is today. Over 20 years of being in the industry, I realized how much my well-being could be impacted by clothing. From very early on, I found that even though I was fortunate enough to be styled by the best brands and stylists in the world, in the latest trends and fashions, I was happiest carving out my own style and way to dress, figuring out the pieces I felt most confident and comfortable in. I’ve always thought that it was important to set future trends, not follow them. So Wellwear came about by marrying these two beliefs/passions – style and wellbeing – together. David Gandy Wellwear is a new clothing category combining wardrobe and well-being. In a world where we are increasingly educated in self-care, Wellwear is bringing the clothing industry up to speed. We have created a collection of pieces designed to support living well in the world, and this is what sets the brand apart. I get asked a lot about my own personal definition of well-being and for me it is all about balance. Wellwear is as easy to wear at work as it is out and about on a weekend, relaxing with friends or during/post a gym session.
In 2014, you did a collaboration with M&S. What did you learn from that experience, and did you bring it to your own brand?
Everything I have learnt from 20 years of industry experience and eight years of brand collaborations has gone into the launch of David Gandy Wellwear, turning this vision into a reality. My time with M&S was invaluable in terms of teaching me everything about the other side of the industry. It gave me a hands-on ‘behind-the-scenes’ insight into every aspect from design to production, lead times, fabrics, creative direction and much more. Today I work closely with every department in the Wellwear team to ensure that I am fully involved in all areas of the business. This is very important to me – if my face and name are on the brand then my involvement is so imperative in terms of meeting my own high expectations!
Since when have you had this concept in mind? And when did you decide it’s time to bring it to life?
Starting my own brand is something that has been in my head for over a decade. My life has been on the go non-stop for the past couple of decades as that is the nature of my career, traveling all around the world and living with a packed suitcase on standby. But the pandemic presented a lifestyle change for me – as it did for everyone – and for the first time in forever I slowed down and stayed in one place. One of my great friends had just started a branding agency so together we had the time and collective skill set to find the best team and bring Wellwear to life.
What’s next for David Gandy Wellwear?
We’ve been a direct-to-consumer brand up until now but I’m constantly asked by people both in-person and via socials about where they can try pieces on. One of Wellwear’s biggest selling points is the tactility of the garments. They really are the softest and most comfortable, yet unbeatably stylish, essentials on the market (and I should know with the amount of clothes I have worn in my lifetime!). I understand people wanting to be able to touch, feel and try first hand. We’re about to announce our first physical retail partnership with a major UK department store which is very exciting, and hope to expand this bricks and mortar offering out globally in the near future.
How is the brand taking on sustainability?
For me sustainability is all about longevity, something I was taught by my Father and Grandfather. To buy once and buy well. I’ve always favored timeless style, looking to Hollywood icons such as Paul Newman and Steve McQueen for inspiration. With Wellwear not only have we produced great quality garments that will last a lifetime and don’t follow trends, we’ve also worked with the most sustainable factories in Portugal using BCI cotton, and developed ways in which we can help the wearer physically to ensure that their garments have longevity. Our Wellwear Breathe treatment applied to the fabric inhibits the growth of odor producing bacteria, creating an antibacterial and anti-odor material. Dermatologically tested and non-irritating, this reduces the need to wash your clothes after every wear, therefore increasing the longevity of your garment and reducing its environmental impact.
Tell us about the special techniques, ideas and features that make the brand so special.
Wellwear is a world first concept bringing apparel and wellbeing together in a lifestyle brand that fuses fashion, function and feeling. Every item draws on my 20 years of industry experience and is based on the scientific benefits of wearing soft, comfortable clothing. We have created a definitive range of essentials that puts your emotional wellbeing first – I wanted to take the stress out of dressing at every level, making it easy and approachable. We take a multi-sensory approach to design, evoking a sense of wellbeing through exceptional comfort, style, fit and quality. Fabric constructions have been selected for their natural functionality, such as body temperature regulation and moisture wicking, to create an additional layer of comfort. Wellwear also pushes the boundaries on affordable fabric innovation by applying technical treatments to garments to physically enhance the wearer’s wellbeing. Wellwear Breathe introduces anti-odour and anti-bacterial properties which reduce the need to wash clothes after every wear, and Wellwear Care uses Aloe Vera plant extract which has wound healing, anti-inflammatory and moisturizng properties. I’m particularly proud of one of our newest collections – Wellwear Restore – which was inspired by a shoulder injury I sustained that is common to gym-goers. I didn’t want to fix it with surgery so instead opted for physio therapy and far infrared radiation treatment. Essentially, when you wear Wellwear Restore sweats your body heat is absorbed by the inner layer of the fabric and reflected back to you in the form of FIR (Far Infrared) rays. The heat generated by FIR makes your muscles relax which in turn increases blood flow, sending more of the good stuff (nutrients, oxygen, white blood cells and antibodies) around your body. This flood of goodness gives you increased energy levels and helps repair muscle damage, therefore supporting your recovery, comfort and well-being.
What is your favorite item from the collection?
It changes every month but at the moment I’d probably say it’s the Ultimate Scoop T-shirt. I have been wearing scoop tees for years and maintain they are every best-dressed man’s biggest style secret. Most men will wear an open neck shirt under a suit which is an elegant look so I’d recommend to try swapping the shirt for a scoop neck tee. It’s the same amount of skin on show but gives much cleaner lines which frame your face and draw the eye. Wear it with the Easy Set and you’ll never look back!
When can we expect the brand to arrive in the Middle East?
We have sold to the Middle East from the day we launched in late 2021 as it was important to me that Wellwear was a global brand from day one. One of my personal passions is classic cars and this December I am competing in the 1000 Miglia Experience UAE which is invitation-only event open to 100 owners of landmark automobiles, from legendary classics to iconic supercars of the modern era. Over the course of five days, we will cross all seven Emirates, driving our cars against the clock while enjoying the UAE’s incredible hospitality. I’ll be driving my 1954 Jaguar XK120, a full 2,700-hour restoration project I painstakingly undertook with JLR Classics, which is being shipped out to the UAE especially for the race. And I am really proud that David Gandy Wellwear is the Official Clothing Partner for the event, which marks an important milestone for the brand as it our first physical presence in the UAE. Wellwear’s clothing is particularly relevant for hot climates due to the temperature control qualities of the fabrics, and the technical properties that we treat the natural fabrics with which enhance the physical well-being such as anti-odour, anti-bacterial, anti-inflammatory, moisturising and sun protection.