Gary Barlow: ‘Music and fashion are similar – I prefer a classic style’

As he prepares for Take That’s 30th anniversary tour, the singer talks to Around Town about three decades of pop-star style.

With more than 50 tour dates across the UK and Europe on the horizon, this year is shaping up to be a busy one for Gary Barlow – but he’s raring to go.

“It feels like a big celebration,” he says of the Take That Greatest Hits tour, which starts in April and marks 30 years since the pop group began.

“We’re not quite at rehearsals yet, but the stage has been built, and we’ve chosen some of the cast that are going to be with us and our band.”

The 48-year-old knows it’s going to be hard work being on the road for nearly three months, which is why he’s already started preparing physically.

“I do a training period before rehearsals start, because it’s a lot of singing, as well as all the moving, and the stage is really big. I do a lot of cardio.”

Not only that, Barlow has just been announced as the new face of Osiris Eyewear at Specsavers, showcasing the brand’s latest collection.

Ahead of the launch, we sat down with the singer-songwriter to reminisce about Nineties fashion, the trends he’d rather forget and why he’s sometimes reluctant when it comes to on-stage outfits…

Take That attending the Gala Night for Take That’s The Band musical in 2018.

Have you always worn glasses?

“I’ve been wearing glasses for about five years – I wear them just to read and work on my laptop most of the time, so when Specsavers came to me, it seemed that apart from my phone, my glasses are the only other thing I have with me all the time, so I thought it would be quite a good thing.

“People really enjoy glasses as a form of self-expression. They’re a lovely accessory and I love accessories, so it’s been good.”

The Nineties are really back in fashion at the moment, does it remind you of starting out with Take That? Are there any things you wouldn’t want to wear now that they’ve had a comeback?

“It’s all the oversized stuff that I’m not really big on. I relive all this through my kids now – my son’s really into all the latest stuff.

“It’s funny, because I’ve worn a lot of it already on stage. Those great big trainers we used to wear, no wonder my calf muscles are so big – those things were enormous! It was like a workout.

“It’s actually like music, fashion is very similar. If you think about my music, it’s not fashionable, but it’s quite classic.

“I heard something of ours on the radio from ’93 the other day, and you think ‘Bloody hell, they’re still playing this!’

“But ‘song songs’ tend not to go out of fashion, and it’s the same with me and clothes, [I prefer] the classic style that doesn’t chase what’s going on currently.”

Did you embrace fashion in the early days of Take That, or were you reluctant about what they wanted you to wear?

“You don’t even need to go back in the day, just go back to the last tour! I’m the most reluctant person to wear these things.

“The problem is, it’s one thing trying them on in this room, it’s another thing stepping in front of 18,000 people with the lights, because it looks completely different then.

“Standing in this room you’d go ‘You’ve got to be kidding me,’ but get on a stage with everyone screaming, it’s brilliant, totally brilliant, so sometimes I’ve got to open my mind a bit to that.”

Who’s the most adventurous in terms of fashion in the band?

“I’ve always been the straightest dresser, only because I’ve always preferred smarter clothes.

“Whenever we’re doing anything as a band, Mark loves his really bright fashion-y stuff, which is brilliant, Howard likes his retro and vintage stuff, and I am the one who wears the shirt and the tie, so I’ve always felt like the straighter one in the band.”

Gary Barlow wearing glasses from the new Osiris Eyewear collection.

Who are you favourite designers or fashion brands?

“I never feel like I’ve got my finger on the pulse of fashion, but I like nice clothes, so I go for that, rather than the most fashionable thing.

“I love Tom Ford clothes. I haven’t got many of them, but I love them. To me, that marks an occasion – that’s a birthday, that’s a smart night out, a charity dinner, it’s something where you’re like ‘I’m going in’.

“I have to say, some of the suits I’ve got that get the most attention are Topman, they’ve just been fitted.

“I have a really good tailor, who can make anything look really good. It’s definitely not the expensive stuff that always looks the best.”

You’ve got the Take That 30th anniversary tour coming up, what can fans expect from the shows?

“It’s exciting because it’s three decades of music now, and fashion! So, when you start looking at that, it’s really exciting what you can do with the show, and audio-wise.

“But there’s no question about it – it’s big for us. It’s not just nice to be here, but it’s amazing that it’s been so long. This is the 30th year, 2019, so I’m proud of it now.

“I think it’s hard to keep anything going for a long time, so I’m really glad we got this far.”

The new Osiris Eyewear collection is available at Specsavers and Take That comes to Principality Stadium 8th June.