In this GFW Live! talk Eric Underwood discussed his time as a ballet dancer, how his career progressed into modelling and his future endeavours within the fashion industry.
Eric Underwood was previously the soloist with The Royal Ballet. Now, Eric focuses his time between working as a Choreographer and balancing fashion based projects. Eric has danced in theatres worldwide, including tours across American, Russia, China and Italy. His roles include The Four Temperaments, Agon, Forsythe’s Work within Work, Tharp’s In the Upper Room, Swan Lake (Von Rothbart), Cinderella, Manon and Sylvia.
Taken under the wing of the fashion industry, Eric has starred in features including the highly respected SHOWstudio series with Nick Knight, GQ Style with David Bailey, the cover of ES Magazine, Vogue Italia in collaboration with Kate Moss and Mario Testino, as well as campaigns for Samsonite shot by Rankin and Hackett. 2017 saw Eric work with Givenchy Fragrance and featured in high-profile editorials with Esquire, FT How To Spend It, New York Times, as well as being the only male face of BBC Children In Need's campaign alongside Selena Gomez, Suki Waterhouse and Edie Campbell. Eric is currently fronting H&M's latest global campaign, released in Jan 2018, as well as his continued work with luxury Italian brand Tod's.
Eric participated in the New York Times Fashion and Luxury Conference, debating Diversity within the fashion sphere with Elizabeth Paton and he continues to be recognised as a key figure on the worldwide fashion circuit.
When discussing diversity within the ballet industry he illuminated the audience on a previous struggle with regards to skin colour ballet pumps. Taking to Instagram with a post asking for someone to take on the task and create race inclusive shoes. In response a Russian ballet company said, ‘you’re black. You should wear black shoes.’ Eric explained this with laugh. To his satisfaction, Bloch, responded creating a line of 3 shoes in darker tones, including one co-designed with underwood, called Eric Tan. Eric believes that visibility is the best way to encourage diversity, saying that he understands his role in the industry and the responsibility that comes with it.
Eric shared with the audience that he was looking to write a book in the near future, capturing his life so far, a memoir. Alongside also hoping to move into the field of fashion design and create his own line, but didn’t go into detail on this, informing the intrigued onlookers that his interest was more geared towards menswear tailoring.
Words by Katy Wolfe
Photography by Zoe Griffin