Gok Wan Biography

Gok Wan Biography on Monsters and Critics


"Gok Wan" (born 9 September 1974) is a British fashion consultant, author and television presenter of British Chinese heritage. He is known for his appearances on many television programmes (including his own fashion show "How to Look Good Naked)", for providing fashion advice to celebrities and for contributing his views to fashion magazines published internationally.

Early life

Gok Wan (christened Kowkhyn Wan) was born in Leicester, England, to a Chinese father, John Tung Shing (who was born in Hong Kong and emigrated to England), and an English mother, Myra. He grew up in Whetstone, Leicestershire, where his parents owned a restaurant. Wan stood out from his peers from a young age and the fact that he was mixed race, tall, overweight and gay led to bullying from other children.

He was 21 stone (133 kg) in his teenage years and later confessed, 'I was really fat'. He was drawn to performing arts and after leaving Babington Community College he began attending a course at the Charles Keene College of Further Education. Wan received a diploma from the college, then enrolled at the Central School of Speech and Drama and continued to study performing arts. However, the other students had backgrounds very different to his and he felt that his weight was beginning to dictate his life, later saying: 'It affected everything: my personality, how people reacted to me, what I wore, everything. When you sit down with someone who's 21 stone you have certain expectations of what they're like: stupid, lazy or really funny.' He felt restricted and unhappy and eventually dropped out of the course, returning to live with his family. Wan set about losing weight and at the age of 20 he began a crash diet, losing half his weight in several months. Despite the sudden change, he had no problem with having been overweight, later reflecting: 'I don't regret having been fat at all. I know how to throw jokes at myself and I use humour before anything else, and those skills allow me to do the chatshows. So I'm thankful for that.' He even lamented that, after losing weight, he had to try harder to attract attention, saying that his weight had, to an extent, defined him.


Over the past 10 years, Wan worked with many celebrities including Bryan Ferry, All Saints, Damien Lewis, Erasure, Vanessa Mae, Wade Robson, Lauren Laverne, Wet Wet Wet, and Johnny Vaughan. He also offered his opinions to magazines, becoming a fashion consultant, and his work has been published internationally in several magazines, which include "Tatler", "Glamour", "Times Style", "Marie Claire", "Cosmopolitan", "The Face", "Afisha Mir", "Clash" and "People". He has also worked with photographers such as Rankin, Mike Owen and Jason Joyce.

Wan has also worked as an 'on-screen' fashion consultant on many television shows including: "MTV Shakedown" (MTV Europe), GMTV (ITV), "LK Today" (ITV), "Big Brother's Little Brother" (Channel 4), "Battle of the Sexes" (BBC1), "The Wright Stuff" (Five), "Make Me a Grown Up" (Channel 4/T4), "The Xtra Factor" (ITV2) and "T4" (Channel 4).

In 2006, Wan was approached by Channel 4 and asked to present his own fashion show, "How to Look Good Naked". In addition, he wrote a book to accompany the series, entitled "How to Look Good Naked: Shop for Your Shape and Look Amazing!", that was published in April 2007. A second series was commissioned and was broadcast on Channel 4 in mid-2007. Along with the second series, he appeared on "The New Paul O'Grady Show", in which he persuaded Paul O'Grady to strip 'naked'. A third series was shown in early 2008. His new series, entitled "Gok's Fashion Fix" was broadcast on Channel 4 in mid-2008. Wan is noted for his enthusiastic use of the words 'literally' and 'bangers' (his word for breasts).

Wan wrote a book titled "How to Dress: Your Complete Style Guide for Every Occasion" which was released by HarperCollins on 1 October 2008. The book was praised by both "Heat" magazine and "Closer" for its sensitive and feel-good approach to a style guide. He also has contracts with lingerie firm SimplyYours.co.uk where he has a range of shapewear lingerie, including a 'banger booster' bra, and Dorothy Perkins, which has instore and online tips from Gok on styling its clothing lines.

The first episode of his latest series "Miss Naked Beauty", which he co-presents with Myleene Klass, was broadcast on 21 October 2008. The series attracted controversy after Wan hosed semi-naked women, causing critics to question the motives behind the series; Amanda Platell described it as 'vulgarity masquerading as self-help'.

Wan presented a documentary which was first broadcast on the 27 January 2009, entitled "Too Fat Too Young", examining overweight kids in the UK. He reflected on his experience of being obese to help these teenagers. In 2010, he started working with actresses Laila Rouass and Jo Brand, along with two other celebrity faces, for a new series of TV Book Club for Channel Four.

He has now begun a new series, a new version of "Gok's Fashion Fix" called "Gok Wan's Clothes Roadshow",in which he makes affordable high street fashions, while Brix Smith styles designer clothes. At the end of a show is a fashion show, where they show their styles to the people who live where the show takes place. A different place is visited each week.

Personal life

Wan currently resides in London. In 2009 he remarked that he had slept with '21 and a half' men in his life, and that he had also slept with women. In the same interview he also claimed that he had lost his virginity to another boy whilst they were both under the legal age of consent.

His brother, Kwoklyn, is an accomplished martial artist who teaches Jeet Kune Do in Leicester. He also has an older sister, Oilen, who is a child-care solicitor.

Wan has been involved in various charitable projects, supporting anti-bullying charity Kidscape and launching a National Glasses Day with Specsavers to encourage everyone to wear their spectacles with pride. As part of Children in Need 2008, Gok treated the workers of "Coronation Street"s Underworld factory to a glamorous makeover. Gok also appeared in Comic Relief Does The Apprentice in March 2009.

External links

(Official Website)

(Biography) at Channel 4's (How To Look Good Naked)

(Interview) with BBC Leicester

(Interview) with "The Observer"

(Q&A with Wan)


This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article about Gok Wan.

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