There's a guy out there, on Instagram, his name is Leo Mandella. He's quite gully, which is why they call him Gully Guy Leo. Well, on Instagram they do, or he does, rather. Or at least he did when he picked his handle, @gullyguyleo.
Since posting his first picture on Instagram just over a year ago, Leo's following has grown to 74.1K followers off the back of a just a hundred or so posts at time of writing (although, checking back today, he's deleted most of them) – not a bad return, all considered.
His feed is dominated by shots of himself wearing the most hyped streetwear on the market. If Highsnobiety and that other site, the swagmonster, or whatever it's called, had a love child, Leo would be it: Supreme; Palace; Gosha; if you could cop it, then the gully guy has probably got it.
But it hasn't been smooth sailing. Leo may have accumulated tens of thousands of followers, propelling him to influencer status, but he has also attracted a few haters along the way, who fling mean-hearted insults his way from the comfort of their smartphone screens. More often than not, this hate consists of allegations that his mom buys his clothes.
Is this true? We sat down to talk to the guy behind the gully himself to try to separate fact from fiction.
How are you doing, Leo? How was school?
Yeah, brilliant, man, thank you! A bit boring.
What subjects did you have today?
Photography, science, math and drama.
And which one is your favorite? If I were to take a stab in a dark, I would guess photography, because of Instagram.
Yeah, definitely! [laughs]
Which one do you like the least?
I’d say math.
So you’re from Warwickshire, how’s the streetwear scene out there?
A lot of people ask me this question, and it’s hard to answer, because there’s nothing to say about it. There is literally no streetwear scene out here, and if there is, it would be more skinny jeans and stuff like that.
So you’re flying the flag for streetwear in Warwickshire by yourself.
Do you consider it a bit of a weight on your shoulders? A responsibility, perhaps?
I don’t see it as a responsibility, or weight on my shoulders, but it does take quite a lot of effort. Maintaining it is work as well.
You’re pretty cut off in a retail sense, because most of the brands you’re into, they’re based out in London. Do you mainly shop online then?
Yeah, I normally go to the shops that sell and release stuff like that and then post it on release date. It is kind of being cut off, but at the same time it’s nice being not so close to it, it makes it harder to get, and when you get it, it feels rewarding.
What are some of your favorite brands and items that you own?
It’s quite obvious that Supreme is my favorite. It’s great. I’m really into BAPE at the moment, because it’s a different kind of brand that comes out with the craziest stuff. There’s a difference to Supreme and Palace. They do weird colors, weird designs. So yeah, BAPE and Supreme are my current favorites.
It’s interesting that you say that, because a lot of people would say that BAPE is a bit passé nowadays.
Yeah, that’s what a lot of people say, but at the same time, the way BAPE was in, then it died, and then it came back, or it’s on it’s way back. I would say it’s definitely back, because everyone likes it. It’s cool to see how it went and then it came back in such a short matter of time.
What do you think brought it back?
Probably the fashion icons, the people who wore it, and those who were new to the scene were like “Oh, I’ve always heard about it but I’ve never seen it, it’s cool!” and then it went on from there.
You really have shitloads of clothes, have you got any estimate on how much you’ve spent overall?
It’s hard to estimate how much exactly I’ve spent on clothes, but it would be probably over £9,000-10,000 ($11,000-12,200).
Wow! You could buy a car with that money.
[laughs] Yeah you could.
But I’m guessing you can’t drive. How old are you?
How long have you been into streetwear? You are, you know, very young.
I’ve been into streetwear quite a while, I’d say maybe two years now. It’s not as long as some of the people I know. At the same time, it is quite long.
I’ve read on the internet that people say that you mainly buy the clothes to take photos in them then sell them off on the internet. Is that your little business model?
Yeah, that became sort of like a funny joke within my circle of mates, and then it expanded. People got the wrong end of the stick. Of course I sell clothes, otherwise how would I be able to afford all the stuff I’m buying? It would literally be impossible. But a lot of times it isn’t straight after I’ve worn them a couple of times.
Reading through the comments on your Instagram, the common insult that people throw your way is that your mom buys your clothes. How would you respond to that accusation?
The thing is, my mom really doesn’t buy me clothes, and I can’t be arsed to reply, because all they want is for me to reply so they can say more. So if I just leave them to be in the dark, it’s a bit more amusing than replying.
That’s a very mature stance. I’m 27 years old and I still spend a lot of time arguing with people on the internet. So, why Supreme over Palace?
I wouldn’t say Supreme over Palace, I like them both. I’m more into Supreme than I am into Palace, just because Supreme do really vary their designs. Like obviously they always have the box logo but this year, when they did the patchwork stuff and things like that, it’s all, like, kind of similar, and it’s nice that Supreme has this essence of being similar, but they do release a lot of varied products. With Palace, even if they do release different things, they don’t always appeal to me but Supreme always release things that I really like, that’s why I love Supreme a bit more than Palace.
What’s your favorite Supreme piece then?
That would probably be the patchwork anorak they released last season, that was, like, really me – the whole set to be honest – the trousers and the jacket. That’s probably my favorite thing from Supreme, at least since I’ve been into it.
Which brands don’t you like in the streetwear right now? Or more broadly, which fashion brands do you think are quite naff?
It’s not that I think that these brands are naff, it’s just not my style. I don’t hate them or dislike them, it’s just not my style. These brands would be Helmut Lang, Rick Owens. The pieces are cool, and they suit a lot of people really nicely. It’s not that I dislike the brand, it’s just it’s not for me and I wouldn’t wear it.
Do a lot of people wear Rick Owens in Warwickshire?
I’ve never seen anyone wearing that, I’m talking more of the London scene. There are so many varied styles over there, and that’s why I like it so much, because they embrace each other’s style and don’t hate on it so much, which is great.
I know you get hate on the internet, but do you get hate in real life?
The hate in real life is so little compared to online. I see someone hating online, but when they pass me on the street they wouldn’t say a word. It’s more funny than anything.
The internet is quite a vicious place. Why do you think people send so much hate your way?
That’s a good question. Even if I don’t know necessarily, I think it goes back to jealousy. When someone sees me wearing a piece of clothing they want, they immediately click and are like: “Fuck you for having that!” Of course people are gonna get salty if I’m wearing something they want, I would do that too. But I would never say “fuck you.” I would be like "that looks sick." Do you know what I mean?
Does the hate ever make you think of retreating into yourself and not posting to Instagram, and being less visible, at least on the internet?
Ages ago it would. But hate adds to the fun of it. You see all this hate, people are still looking at my page, taking their time out of their day to comment. It isn’t all negative, but publicity is publicity, whether it’s hatred or someone appreciating what you did.
It’s like that song “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger…” Who sang that? I do my best to avoid popular culture. Would you consider yourself an influencer?
It is difficult to say, because you’re automatically considered big-headed if you claim to be an influencer. When I meet people when walking around, or on Instagram, they go “your style is sick and I look up to that for inspiration, or it influences me to wear something.” It’s nice to see, but I don’t want to be big-headed and claim to be an influencer. Well, I’m an influencer for certain people, but I wouldn’t want to say it in a big-headed way.
Do you feel like, as an influencer for certain people, you have to live up to certain type of things or certain standards?
Yeah, it’s kind of the case. When there is a certain drop that’s quite hyped, people are ready to see a fit pic, and if I’m there with the fit pic it works even better. It’s not that I feel like pressured or anything, I love to do it.
Are there certain things that you’ve bought because you feel like you have to, because of the following and expectations rather than your own personal taste?
Yes and no. There’s probably an odd piece I’ve worn because it’s so hyped. I was like “alright, I probably have to provide a fit pic.” It’s not that I hate it, and it’s not because I love it either.
Do you find it difficult sometimes to separate your own taste and the influence of the people who you are influencing. Does it ever feel like it’s twisted together?
I get what you mean. It’s like people don’t really know what my proper style is and what my hype style is. But it’s not really the case, because the stuff I wear I genuinely do like.
For me it’s an interesting thing, you have your public persona, and you have your private identity. I’ve never been in the position you’re in but then I always wonder, if you ever feel like you lose the sense of where the personal you finishes and the public you starts? Or is there even a difference anymore? Has your public self consumed your private self?
It has got to the point where I’m so out out-maxing the amount of pictures of myself, that it’s hard to not to show me in a way that there is no way going back. People know what my face looks like. It’s really harder now.
When you go to London, do people recognize you on the street?
Yeah, the first time it happened it was about five months ago, it was insane. People were coming up to me like, “can we take a picture?”, “I like your outfits." This was a bit surreal, but definitely really cool.
Have you got any girls chirpsing you because of your fame?
[laughs] Yeah, a few.
Has it come to anything, or has it been just flirtations so far?
Nothing really, nah, it’s just like, I don’t know, just a few DMs.
[laughing] Sliding into your DMs. When you started posting your outfits, was it your intention to get to the point where you are now, or was it something that happened organically?
100% it was not my intention. The way it happened, it was surreal. It all happened at once. It was one picture, and then the likes started going up and up and up, and now I’m up to 70,000 followers. It is insane! And it’s getting more. It was never really an intention, but the way it happened, I really do enjoy it.
How important is cultivating your social media brand for you?
Yeah, it’s definitely important now, because it’s something I do and I’m known for doing that. So if I don’t do it, then people are like “Oh, what’s going on?”
I’m getting a bit serious with my questions, but I got a fun one for you. If you were to do a streetwear/fashion-themed episode of Come Dine With Me, who would you invite?
I don’t actually know off the top of my head, I’d probably invite…I actually have no idea! Probably people with varied styles. Like on Come Dine With Me they make completely different meals. It would quite funny to have people with different styles, so it wasn’t boring or anything.
Well, do you have any idea what you would serve?
Food-wise, probably, something for everyone. Maybe a Hypebeast cake with a box logo on it, or just lots of logos on it, to please everyone at the dinner table.
How about Supreme bacon? Because a strip of bacon is like the box logo of the animal kingdom.
Yeah! Some Supreme bacon on a cake!
I see that your display picture on Skype is 1-800-Basement-Ting. Are you more of a Basement guy than a Wavy Garms guy?
Yeah, definitely! People at the Basement are like family, I’ve worked with them for so long. Yeah definitely more Basement than Wavy Garms.
I’ve heard about the beef between Basement and Wavy Garms, although I’m not very informed about it. Could you tell me about it?
I’ve never gotten deep into it; it doesn’t really bother me. Wavy Garms are doing their own thing, and Basement are doing their own thing, so it’s not necessarily that I look at and I want to study it. Just the difference between two brands, and it caused a bit of conflict. I’m not really mad into it, they are just on different pages and doing their own thing, and that’s cool to see. But yeah, it’s pretty much all I know.
Did you manage to cop yourself a box logo hoodie last week?
Yeah, I managed to get the peach one, which I wanted the most.
I tried to get one just so I could resell it.
I’ve got friends who got theirs just out of luck, who got the ticket to go to the front of the queue, so yeah, that was very lucky. I just got it like that, but I had to pay them a bit on top just to say thanks. They were going for crazy money on the day, peach was like £900 to £1,000, so it was insane.
Fucking hell…Well, is there anything you would like to add?
No, that’s pretty much it, covered everything really.
Great, thank you very much Leo.