Veteran Bloggers Tina Leung And Bryan Boy On The Rise Of Influencers In The Fashion Industry
Welcome to the smartphone age, where absolutely everything can be accessed right at our fingertips.
Looking for directions? Check Waze. Need to verify the news? One word: Google. Missing a loved one from miles away? FaceTime them, it's easy. In need of creative inspiration? Simply scroll through Instagram.
But before the rise of the number one photo sharing app, and way before social media networks like Facebook and Twitter became popular, there was blogging. Straight from school or work, people turned on their boxy desktop computers, connected to the internet (remember the sound of dial-up connection?), and logged on to their favorite blogging websites to read long-form articles. Call it old-school, but blogging in the early 2000s helped pave a way to today's digital fashion era.
Some of the first few fashion bloggers are Hong Kong-based stylist Tina Leung and Manila's very own BryanBoy, who now resides in Sweden. Remaining relevant through the decade, the two have successfuly transitioned their platforms to Instagram. One look at their social media feeds, and there's no doubt about it: these veteran bloggers are masters of two completely different worlds.
Aside from regularly posting fashion updates on their feeds, Tina and BryanBoy brush elbows with the world's top couturiers. In fact, the two first met in a fashion show, sitting in front row. But though they are miles away from each other, the high fashion socialites are inseparable. "We're family!" the duo quipped over pizza and drinks with the Metro.Style team.
In this exclusive interview, the global bloggers and Belo Medical Group ambassadors give us the low-down on personal style, friendship, and the impact of digital infulencers in the fashion industry.
Describe your style.
Bryan Boy: I feel like a lot of people dress in uniform after a certain age, but my style will always be eccentric. I love playing with clothes.
Tina Leung: I don’t have a uniform. A lot of people have a certain style, but I like to try different things. I think it’s the stylist in me.
What makes a person stylish?
BB: How you put things together. I believe in individual and personal style—you have to have it in you. I hate dressing like everybody else!
TL: It’s their confidence. Once you have the confidence, you can pull off anything.
BB: Explore what suits you, your personality, and the time you live in. With me, you are able to tell what stage I am in life just by looking at my clothes!
TL: Try everything once.
How did you come up with what to wear today?
BB: I had five minutes to prepare for this outfit ‘cause I was at a conference call this morning [before this shoot]. I literally just came up with this. I took a white shirt from a closet, ironed it, and here I am!
TL: Well, Bryan told me he was going to wear gold—and [coincidentally,] I have a gold dress!
How did the two of you become friends?
BB: A long time ago, Tina and I sat beside each other in a show in Milan. I also went to Hong Kong a lot for work, so we hang out with the same crowd. We're both an Aries. She's my sister—I see her more than my own family.
TL: The first time I met Bryan, I obviously knew who he was. We were seated together in front row, and then we just really got along. We are same and different in many respects.
What's one fashion tip you learned from each other?
BB: Tina taught be never to be afraid of anything. Her style is bold and daring. She inspires me because she always puts things in ways I never even thought of doing.
TL: We have the same answer. Bryan taught me not to be afraid. He inspires me every day. He's so comfortable and positive with himself. He's never in a bad mood. We fight once in a while, like every close friend, but his positivity inspires me.
About the blog
Why did you start your blog?
BB: I started blogging in 2004. The platform I first used was Typepad. I was 22 years old then, and I was able to save money from being a website designer. I went to Russia, and at that time, there were no Instagram and Facebook. I wanted to make a diary that my friends can view. From the beginning, I already loved telling stories and sharing what was going on in my life—and a blog was the perfect platform.
At that time, blogs were still new. It wasn’t my goal to be famous—I just wanted to share my pictures to my friends. Back then, everyone looked up everything on computers. Cellphones didn’t even have pictures then!
TL: Most of my friends in Hong Kong either had family business or propoerties, or were lawyers and doctors. As a freelancer, my friends and family didn’t know what I did every day. My parents had no idea what I was doing in life. I started my blog around 2007 or 2008 on Wordpress. It was just a photo diary for them to see what I did every day.
How different was the blogging industry a decade ago to how it is today?
BB: Back then, people really liked long-form reads, because they had the time. People take time to go home, and then log in their computers after work or dinner. Whereas now, we live in a mobile generation. Things definitely shifted—now, we want our information fast, quick, and instant. People’s attention spans are shorter because we live crazier lives than before. It’s more stressful now. People are now busier and they want information faster.
TL: The industry now is so mature. There are analytics and 5 million different apps. There is an overabudance and saturation of things. I really wonder what’s going to be the next step.
What do you feel about the rise of social media influencers?
BB: I think it’s great. In a sense they, kind of democratized fashion. Back then, fashion was very limited to an institutionalized way of communicating. Now, with social media, you can communicate faster and make it more personal.
Now, there are different points of view. It’s not just limited to an institution. For example, fashion editors and journalists write under a title’s certain standards. With social media, there are a lot more voices. It’s refreshing to have so many perspectives in communicating fashion. It’s not just limited to a certain way. You can be a 22-year-old girl from Germany, or a 36-year-born in the Philippines but now lives in Sweden. There are different perspectives in fashion now, and I think that’s the way forward.
TL: I find it interesting now that people aim to be an "influencer". Back then, there was no such word and I still find myself a bit uncomfortable with that word, because we never set out to do something like this. But I love that there are so many different types of people in all parts of the world, and you can easily access them today. There are no rules at the moment—I’m really curious as to where all this is going.
What is the role of digital in the fashion industry?
BB: Digital plays a very important role because it starts from the creative process. Designers look at Instagram literally hours each day. Pictures can inspire designers during the whole creation process. So many brands even design their shows based on how they're going to look on Instagram.
TL: There's a whole section for digital magazines and influencers in the front row. I'm sure there are still old school groups of people who fight against it, but influencers take up such a big section now. I guess it's up to the audience on making an informed decision on who to follow.
On Getting Beauty Treatments
What beauty treatment did you recently get?
BB: Yesterday, I did threads to make my jaw line tigther. I'm 38 years old. When you're in your mid 30s, gravity is your best friend and best enemy. I thought of getting a refresher by tightening my jawline. I did the PicoSure laser to improve my skin quality. I also did the emsculpt, where you just lie down there, and it's like doing 20,000 situps in just 30 minutes. Tina had an emsculpt done on her ass. It's incredible.
TL: Aside from the emsculpt, I also had Kinetic Enerjet face lift. It didn't really hurt, but it injected hydrolic acid into my skin to promote collagen. Supposedly, it's going to take a month to see results, and everything is going to be tighter. I'm too scared to do anything too invasive, so this treatment is the perfect answer for me.
What is your say about people who think that getting beauty treatments is still taboo?
BB: For years, I struggled with my insecurity. I was insecure with my nose and my teeth. People made fun of me online. But why did I take so long [to get a procedure done]? All these years, I was afraid it was going to be painful—but in reality, there was no pain. It was so easy. Sure, there were side effects, but the end result was worth it. I feel empowered because I feel good about myself.
Thinking that procedures are still "taboo" is very archaic. Why would you stop someone from looking their best? It's the best form of confidence—when you feel good about yourself, your confidence affects your way of life. It affects your mood, your interaction. If you feel good, you make everyone around you feel good, too.
TL: To each their own. Those who say otherswise are obviously scared. I love science and technology—whenever there's a new app, I'd download it right away. I love seeing things work. I actually don'y see much from my left eye because I have a scar over my cornea. But with science and how fast things are going now, I'm sure they're going to figure someting out. At this point, I'm just rambling. I love science.
My point is, I don't listen to naysayers. I do what I want to do. It's an Aries thing.
Photography by Daniel Soriano
Special thanks to Belo Medical Group
Shot on location at Discovery Primea