— Model and influencer Daniel Toni Jais speaks on personal style, social media’s impact on the fashion industry and life on the road.
Today’s digital age has sparked a new dawn for fashion labels. They’re more personal. The most well-known names in luxury which seemed larger than life are within reach. Creative, below-the-radar brands which might have previously gone unnoticed, have gained international notoriety. Social media inundated us with a palette of styles to choose from at any given moment; and this has as much to do with those platforms as it does today’s influencers. Models in the industry are no longer just a face. They’ve become a trusted source for style and perspective which, in many cases, has subsequently led to jet-setting lifestyles and collaborations with top brands.
For 27-year-old Daniel Toni Jais, the influencer life is about much more than gaining social stardom or island-hopping. When he began, the Munich-born model and former professional soccer player used his social media soapbox to share his passion for style and fashion tips. Although he had never thought of becoming an influencer when he set out, his content and lifestyle sparked an overwhelming amount of interest from his digital community. No stranger to life on the road—having formerly played on clubs such as TSV 1860 München, Wacker Burghausen and TSV Steinbach—Toni Jais has embraced his sometimes nomadic lifestyle that allows him to do what he loves. Today, his Instagram alone (@danieltonijais) has reached a following of 430,000 and continues to grow each day. Recently, we discussed social media’s collision with the fashion world as well as how he navigates a career that keeps him away from home 180 days a year.
How did you begin your modeling career? What was your first Job?
This story is actually quite funny: I used to be a professional soccer player at that time, but my career wasn’t doing that well anymore. So, my girlfriend Nathalie sent some pictures of me to a nearby modeling agency, without me knowing about it. One day she had to tell me, since the agency was really interested and wanted to meet me in person. So, she convinced me to visit them and even though I never planned on becoming a model, I signed the contract and gave it a try. My very first job was actually super exciting for me. It was a Dior event and my job was basically welcoming famous German people to the event and opening the door for them.
Have you always had an eye for style or is it something that went hand-in-hand with modeling?
Even though I never considered becoming a model or influencer back in the day, I have always been super interested in fashion. To wear cool clothes and combine different looks that match perfectly, has always been one of my passions.
What luxury menswear brand is catching your eye most for 2020?
There are so many cool and talented labels out there. But if I had to list up my favorites at the moment, it probably would be Louis V, ALYX, Jacquemus, Dior or Balmain.
When it comes to fashion sense, what’s one bit of advice you can give the average man?
First and foremost, don’t be afraid of trying out new things! A lot of people get stuck in what they always wear and don’t move on. Also, every man’s closet should run some classic basics like a nice suit, white sneakers, boots, some cool jeans and one-colored shirts.
As a style influencer and model, how do you choose which brands fit to partner with?
My team and I have always been really selective when partnering up with brands. The most important part of the decision process is that I have to say, “I would also rock these products in my everyday life without advertising it.” Also, we always have an eye on material and quality of the products, so I can stand 100 percent behind the things I’m advertising for! Of course there has been development through the years, since I’m also older now, but the process of decision has always been the same.
How do you think fashion has evolved as a result of the prevalence of social media?
I think it really pushed all the brands to be even more equal and open-minded. It also has brought high fashion brands closer to people who are not interested in the fashion industry. I love that. Creating fashion is art, and in my opinion, it has never been more appreciated as it is now.
Do you feel social media has shifted power from the brand to the individual?
Well, I think social media gave everyone—the brand and the individual—the possibility to show their very personal story. There’s so many brands out there that really do a great job in storytelling and putting their brand’s soul out there. So, the answer to this question can’t be a “yes” or a “no” to me. I think social media has brought both sides closer together, resulting in something that’s bigger than anything has been before—real conversation. Talking to each other; listening to each other. I guess that is what happened. So, in my opinion, the power has shifted, but not in its entirety.
What does luxury mean to you? How do you interpret it?
As I have become a pretty spiritual person over the past few years, I have to say that my personal sense of luxury has also shifted a lot. This doesn’t mean that I don’t like cars or fashion anymore. But to me, real luxury is to be able to spend some time for yourself. I recently traveled to a beautiful hotel in the German Alps all by myself to recharge my batteries, meditate and simply enjoy time without having to worry about deadlines and to enjoy some “me time.” To me, that’s real luxury.
You travel quite a bit. What’s been your top world experience? Favorite destination?
Oh yes, 2019 was crazy. I was “on the road” for around 180 days! I think my craziest experience was snorkeling with some sharks and a turtle next to our overwater villa in the Maldives. What an incredible moment this was! Favorite destination? I don’t think that there’s one specific city, country or region I would point out. Every place is so special as soon as you connect to local people and go with the flow of your destination. To name some destinations that really blew my mind: Costa Rica, Sri Lanka, Hong Kong, and of course, New York City whenever I go there for sure.
180 days a year is a lot. How do you stay grounded with that sort of lifestyle? What is your way of taking time for yourself when you’re on the road?
I have my everyday morning routine and I do it wherever I am, as it’s so important to me. Oil pulling, meditation, yoga and some breathing exercises are parts of this routine and help me to prepare myself perfectly for my everyday business.
You played soccer professionally. How do you stay fit for shoots while traveling?
I’ve always been a sports guy! I started playing soccer at the age of three, and moved on to a professional club when I was 11. I don’t really have to force myself to go to the gym or do a quick hotel room workout to be honest. Also, I started posting some of my high-intensity interval training (HIIT) workouts on my YouTube channel last year. I do these HIIT workouts quite often during my travels, as you don’t need any equipment for these.