David Gandy urges advertisers to reappraise masculinity

David Gandy: says individuality and authenticity are important attributes
David Gandy: says individuality and authenticity are important attributes

Model David Gandy has urged brands to embrace a broad definition of masculinity and the fact that men are open to a wide range of fashion role models.

Gandy, who spoke to Campaign before appearing on a Time Inc panel at Advertising Week Europe in London, explained that advertising traditionally differentiated between what is male and female, but "that has all changed now".

He ushered in a new masculine aesthetic in advertising – a strong, healthy look – when he appeared as the face of Dolce & Gabbana’s Light Blue fragrance in 2006.

Gandy believes that individuality has always had a key role in fashion and that the personalisation trend is nothing new. He explained: "British fashion has always been based on individuality. I started wearing a three-piece suit at 25 and now everyone is wearing them. Tailoring has made a huge comeback."

He also pointed to enduring role models such as James Bond as evidence of the lasting appeal of the "traditional British gent", even in the midst of tumultuous change: "James Bond is still a role model; the archetypal traditional English gent in a three-piece suit. The last couple [of Bond films] have been the biggest-grossing of all time."

Gandy, who has his own range of underwear and lounge wear with Marks & Spencer, said he has built his own brand on being an "authentic British man". Gandy added that, while his modelling career opened doors for him, becoming a brand in his own right wasn’t always easy because "people said ‘no’ a lot".

Despite having 700,000 followers on Instagram, Gandy said he does not define himself as an influencer. He also questioned the assumption that the new wave of influencer is, by definition, authentic: "When you look at influencers and bloggers, you think they are being authentic but they are often being paid to wear those clothes."

Gandy warned that people can easily build up an unrealistic image on social media. However, he countered critics who argue that his own body image is unrealistic by explaining: "I train like an athlete and you don’t look at an athlete and say their body image is unrealistic."

According to Gandy, people in general are "nutritionally unaware" but the way we eat and drink and our attitudes to health are changing.

Gandy urged people not to live their lives through the lens of social media. "It is something people need to look at. People are depressed," he said. "In a world where we are supposed to be so diverse and communicative, I see people put a phone or tablet on a dinner table."

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