The 2012 London Olympics is one of my proudest moments. Being the only male was the highlight. There was a massive argument between all the girls about who was going to walk out first – it was fascinating to see. I could see the director surrounded by all the girls – Naomi, Kate – and in the end they walked out together. I was just happy to be there. Paul Smith designed a gold suit for me to wear, which ended up looking bronze.
Modelling led me down quite a few different avenues. Investments, start-ups, collaborations, columns for GQ and Vogue. From all that, I launched Wellwear. I’ve never underestimated how hard it would be to launch a business and be a founder of a brand. In other roles and collaborations, you’re never fully in control. But then when you are, you’re the one who has to worry about the money, where investments are coming from, how to spend them correctly and making sure everyone’s happy. All your time is taken up thinking about the next collaboration. It’s difficult, but it’s doing okay at the moment.
Launching a fashion business is the last thing I have to tick off before I can retire a happy person. It’s a success at the moment, but it’s going to take many, many years to get it to where I want, but I have to at least attempt these things.
I’ve learnt from other people throughout my career. Just look at Dolce & Gabbana’s work ethic. They would finish a show then everyone would gather to watch it back before Domenico would be, “Right, onto autumn/winter!” and straight back into the studio. They still oversee everything and I think I’ve learnt to do that: have an amazing team around you, but remember that the responsibility still lies with you. And then there’s Tandy Anderson at Select Model Management. She was a female boss of a modelling agency, which just didn’t exist back then. Everything was against her, but she’s never complained – she just got on with it full pelt and became the best. She’s the driving force and still is to this day. She’ll come up with 20 ideas. Ten of them will be okay, five of them will be a disaster, and five of them will be the biggest thing ever – like me working with D&G. Everyone thought I should go with Armani, but she was adamant. And that’s now how I’ll walk into the office sometimes: “Right, I want to project something onto a big building!” Everyone will ask what I’m on about, but there’s something in my head now that says we have to try these things.
Never underestimate how hard launching a brand is. It’s ruthless out there and you can get eaten up. Money does funny things to people and you can’t always trust the people you think you can. Gentlemen’s agreements are fine until something becomes successful, then things change. I’ve learnt this the hard way, unfortunately.