The Sun Also Rises
We cruise through some of the season’s easiest pieces with the model, musician and general man of the world Mr Sam Way
“Minneapolis, New York, LA, India, Thailand, South Africa, Ibiza, Paris, Marrakech, Stockholm…” Mr Sam Way is rattling off a list of places he’s visited since the start of the year. It’s the sort of statement that would incite jealousy, if it weren’t for the fact that he’s simply answering a question. The last thing you could accuse this 27-year-old self-confessed “lad from a small town” of is boastfulness. “Oh,” he says. “And Birmingham.”
To that itinerary he can now add the Mediterranean island of Malta, whose stunning coastline forms the backdrop for a very Talented Mr Ripley-esque showcase of cashmere, linen and silk for our photo story. In this languid vision of a summer wardrobe, codes and boundaries become blurred: pyjama shirts are worn during the day (something we’ll all be musing over next summer if the recent spring 2016 men’s collections are anything to go by), heavy-gauge sweaters are matched with silk boxer shorts and shoes are strenuously discouraged. It’s leisurewear in the purest sense of the word: glamorously impractical and designed with the yacht-dwelling bon vivant in mind.
There are worse ways to spend a working day than swanning around the Med like you’re Dickie Greenleaf – but such is the lifestyle of an international model. It’s one that Mr Way has been living for more than a decade now, ever since signing with Models 1 at the age of 16. In what will no doubt be a very familiar story to anyone acquainted with the London modelling scene, he was spotted in the Topshop flagship on Oxford Street – the store that acts as a second office for many a model scout. “I was in town on a weekend trip to see Jerry Springer: the Opera with my mum,” recalls Mr Way, who grew up away from London in the rather more bucolic surroundings of Devon in south west England.
Though in his working life he still marches to the drum of the fashion world, Mr Way is also busy carving out a new path as a musician, in the smart, loquacious lineage of a street balladeer such as Jamie T. He’s a relative latecomer to music, having not picked up a guitar until the age of 22, but he’d been writing for years prior to that. “I’ve had a passion for words and a love for storytelling since as long as I can remember,” he says. “I began writing a lot when I started travelling, often for modelling. I was having all these amazing experiences and I had no one to share it with. Writing was a way to capture the moment, to somehow make the experiences more tangible. To this day, I have a notebook and a pencil pretty much with me wherever I go.”
The catalyst for putting his words to music was that old familiar one: heartbreak. It happened around the time that he first moved to London. “My dad noticed that I was low, shoved a guitar into my hands and said ‘write about it’. It was a kind of therapy, I guess.” If love showed him the way, it was a chance meeting in an east London café with the flamboyant music and sports agent Mr Eric Hall, a man famous for publicising Queen and the Sex Pistols in the 1970s, that offered him a foot in the door. “Eric was someone who believed in me, and made me see that what I had was something worth sharing,” he says. “Without him I’m not sure I would have become so driven.”
After spending the past decade establishing himself as a model, how does it feel to be starting again from scratch? “I can’t stress enough how much it feels like I’m going back to square one,” he says. There’s been no milking of modelling contacts, no secret handshakes; his new EP, due for release later this year, is entirely self-released. It is, as he puts it, “a step into the total unknown”. We’re sure he’ll take it in his stride.