Leo Mandella aka Gully Guy Leo is the 15-year-old kid from Warwickshire that's become one of the most recognisable figures in streetwear.
Growing up disconnected from anything remotely culturally cutting-edge or “cool” spurred on Gully Guy Leo to go against the grain from a young age. Whilst you can’t choose where you’re brought up and raised, thanks to the power of social media, Leo was able to grow his identity and passion for streetwear from Warwickshire.
He’s previously opened up about his hometown, stating “There is literally no streetwear scene out here, and if there is, it would be more skinny jeans and stuff like that.” In spite of this, his own independence of thought and desire to do something different has led him to cultivating a huge following, which now surpasses 500,000 people on Instagram. Leo’s resistance to the status quo is a symbol of why he’s linking up with Converse to front their ‘Rated One Star’ campaign.
Chosen by Converse to help re-launch the One Star – with his distinctive brand of posing now immortalized on busses, billboards & more – it hasn’t always been this way. Leo’s profile has skyrocketed from posting fit pics on the driveway outside the front of his house to a handful of followers just a few years ago. He’s now going to be seen a whole lot more, where he is now an inspirational figure for kids his age, as well as those much older than him.
Leo became bored of what everyone else was wearing in his hometown, and tired of everything that he saw in high-street shops. He found inspiration in the streetwear he saw in London, where he fell in love with the colours and patterns emanating out of the capital’s bubbling scene. He soon capitalised on it and catapulted himself into the limelight by buying his own outfits and showcasing them online. He quickly amassed a devout following of fans who kept their eyes glued on his movements, where he curated fresh fits under his Gully Guy guise.
But as night follows day, haters follow success, and Leo’s glo-up has not exactly been met with universal approval. Slated by many as a “culture vulture” who takes to Instagram with expensive and fits funded by his parents, Leo has seen an unenviable amount of hate thrown his way, mainly just for wearing clothes that everyone else wants.
The amount of personally-charged abuse he’s received would be enough to drive the majority of people to either snap back or become a recluse. But instead of worrying about what people are saying online, Leo’s attitude towards the mass hate he’s received over the years is not befitting your typical 15-year-old.
He has one of the most measured outlooks towards the abuse he receives, where he’s stated, “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.”
His composed point of view, coupled with how he continues to grow his portfolio, by flexing expertly-curated and resoundingly-rare fits, has seen him continue to develop his profile at an astronomical rate. In doing this, Gully Guy Leo has harnessed the hate to become one of the most ubiquitous figures in streetwear.
Far from being given his clothes on a silver platter, Leo’s collection has taken hard-work to cultivate. Streetwear is now big business, and reselling culture is a incremental part of that. Leo was ahead of the curve, realising that he could finance a flurry of new fits by carefully re-selling his old ones. In doing so, Leo’s navigated his way up the streetwear game through a meticulous strategy that has shown an entrepreneurial nous way beyond his years.
Now, Leo finds himself decked out in the most eye-catching clothing and shoes out, including limited-edition One Stars like Tyler The Creator’s Golf La Fleur and A$AP Nast’s One Stars, which cap off his fearless fits. He’s now arguably the most influential 15-year-old on the gram, where he’s followed by the likes of Playboi Carti, Heron Preston and Virgil Abloh and the envy of every streetwear-head.
But despite this, Leo remains modest as his worldwide influence continues to grow greater by the day. On his status as an influencer, he’s stated “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.”
That’s what why Leo is the perfect fit for One Star: someone who as forged his own lane – on his terms – but still remains humble in the face of hype and hate.
Leo Mandella fronts the new Converse One Star which is now available from converse.com.