Almost a year ago to the day, Netflix’s Queer Eye quietly and without fanfare slipped onto our screens. Not at all a sign of things to come. A remake of 2003’s original smash hit, it has moved away from the unflappable island of Manhattan and instead sees The Fab Five drive to the conservative south in search of the nominated men and women we’ve come to know as ‘Heroes’ who consider themselves in desperate need of a makeover.
In charge of the Heroes personal style is Doncaster-born, Utah-residing Tan France. As a Gay, Pakistani, Muslim man he stands out in the red states of Missouri and Georgia but proudly declares that while the first show was about tolerance, in 2019 it’s all about acceptance. Possibly the nicest celebrity on the planet – there’s no one better to lead the charge.
In anticipation of the third season dropping on 15th March, we sat down with Tan to bend his ear on everything from the show to style to, well, Nando’s.
On the show, and often in normal life, fashion can take a back seat for a lot of guys. What do you think is the importance of an outfit?
For me, outfits are not just about the visual. It’s so much more than that. I get to use clothes as an honest vehicle about how people view themselves. It makes no sense to have a closet full of clothes that make you feel blah and then one or two things that make you feel good – maybe a suit for a special occasion. Why would you not want to feel that good every day? It truly does affect your mood when you know you’re dressed blah – you’ll do blah things all day. If I say to myself “I look fucking hot today” I will achieve things I want to achieve – things I wouldn’t achieve if I was in my pyjamas.
I want to use clothes to make people feel good about themselves, for them to feel good about their bodies. I don’t want to ever be the reason I’m unhappy – the last thing you need to do is dress in a way that makes you unhappy.
What if this doesn’t come naturally?
Firstly, aesthetically, find a style star you’re into and whose style you gravitate towards. It can be anyone, even a sports star like…I was about to pretend I knew the name of a sports star…how about David Beckham? Find images of them and what they’re wearing and what you want to gravitate to and when you’re shopping think “would they buy this” if the answer is no, don’t buy it.
Go for someone who is in your age range and who has a lifestyle similar to yours.
Secondly, and I tell this to a lot of my heroes so it sounds a little American, but as I look in the mirror every day I ask what I like about myself and I highlight those areas. I don’t focus on the rest.
In episode 3, you really turn things around for one of the heroes, Mary, with a trip to the dentist. How does it feel to be in the room when someone’s life changes like that?
THAT KILLED ME. To know you’ve had a hand in affecting someone’s life, and being in a position where Jonathan and I had the power to make a lasting difference on someone’s life – where that person can smile because of you? Nothing feels more powerful.
With Joey in episode 2, you need to make him look and feel more authoritative than he currently does. How can one do that without looking like they’re dressed in Dad’s clothes?
Fit. Fit. Fit. I love an oversized moment but it’s not appropriate for everyone’s industry or for every day. What is your job about? There’s no point wearing a suit unless it’s required. If it’s business casual – think about what is more you. The colours, the styles. Maybe it’s not trousers but jeans and not shirts but turtlenecks.
When it comes to trends, which ones are worth investing in?
I go for things I know I can wear for a couple more years at least. If it’s such a trend and I can only wear it once or twice, I’m not investing in it. I love a crossbody bag and I know it’s a ‘woman’s look’ but I couldn’t care less. I wanted a version that would work for me. I’m not afraid to look feminine as I’m a very feminine person but I wanted one that I could wear for years and didn’t feel too much like a handbag. I found one that makes sense for who I am. If you can wear it for years – that’s a good investment. Where it’s more accessibly priced, you can have some more room to experiment.
And finally…how does it feel to be back home?!
It’s so good. It always feels good to come back, I don’t get to do it very often. Since the show though I have been able to do it a lot more but it’s only for a couple days. But that’s enough time to go to Nando’s. They don’t have it in the US so (and this is going to sound so bougie and lame) but if I’m really craving it, I sometimes fly to Vancouver for a fix…