How a Filipino blogger became a flamboyant front-row fixture
Bryan Grey-Yambao, who is also known as Francis Bryan Yambao, started blogging as BryanBoy in 2004, at age 22. Now he gets the best seats at Fashion Week, but how did he get there?
Bryan, who is the eldest of four children, grew up with his parents in the southern suburb of Alabang (in the home where he still lives when he visits Manila today).
He attended the Colegio San Augustin in the neighborhood of Makati, an exclusive, private, coeducational Catholic school where notable alumni include several Filipino senators and the sister of the incumbent president.
Did you know that we could read more about the most beautiful beaches and not about fashion trends in his posts? Bryan’s digital career began with a travel journal. He started his blog in his bedroom in the Philippines after he went to Russia for a month. He turned to the website because he wanted to interact with people around the world. That’s what he still loves the most about being an influencer.
He blogged about his life and purchases, which even then included luxury items from well-known brands. But a real breakthrough happened when he started writing for an anonymous gossip blog called Chikatime.
“Chikatime was a huge scandal in Manila. It rocked the entire country,” said a formerly Manila-based editor who has met Bryan.
By 2006, the influence of his fashion blog was such that a seasonal ad campaign for Fendi featured a photo of the supermodel Angela Lindvall holding a handbag up like a trophy, her left hand on her hip—a visual nod to a signature BryanBoy pose, and a clear sign that fashion was beginning to pay him notice.
In 2008, Bryan attended his first international fashion weeks as an invited guest. At the start, it was not so glamorous as one may expect.
«I'll never forget my first Milan Fashion Week - I stayed at a friend's apartment for free because I couldn't afford to pay to stay at a hotel for 400 euros or more a night per room,» recalls Bryanboy.
In the same year, he made a fan video about Marc Jacobs. In the video, Bryan raved about a green ostrich bag in the designer’s Fall-Winter 2008 collection. Jacobs sent him the coveted green bag - in fact, the runway sample. BryanBoy called the gift “the best thing that has ever happened to me.” But in fact, the best was yet to come. Jacobs sent him a personal email pledging to name the bag the “BB” in his honor. And kept his word. Bryan actually was honored with a Marc Jacobs bag named after him.
Bryan thinks, that it’s really important to have a unique point of view, to have a voice. He doesn’t hesitate to speak up his mind. Last year, he caused a stir as he criticized street style photographers for selling images of influencers without their authorization to magazines, retailers or brands.
«When was the last time an influencer demanded a model release form from photographers who sell their images to magazines, retailer websites or the brands directly?» wrote he on his Instagram with a #NoFreePhotos hashtag, pointing that many influencers are not paid to wear clothes.
Bryan emphasizes that being a blogger is a hard work and nobody gets everything on a silver platter.
"Fashion Month is a huge business expense for me," Yambao says. "The notion that bloggers are being flown left and right, all expenses paid, by brands during fashion week is simply not true for everyone. Designers are dressing a lot of bloggers - yes, I'm one of them sometimes. But in the end, you have to return the clothes. A smart reader can tell who's wearing clothes that aren't theirs because they shoot them once and you'll never see them wear it again.»
To be a successful blogger you have to turn your blog into a business. It’s not only about wearing stylish clothes and taking pictures.
Storytelling and entertainment are the next keys, which may open a door to success. Bryan does not try to divide his online character from his real life as a human. He rarely mentions his family, and never give even a first name for the boyfriend, but he’s most outspoken when it comes to what happened to him personally.
He was not ashamed to take photos immediately after plastic surgery, with his face and nose all swollen and wrapped in a bandage. Moreover, he did it a very creative way with a reference to the famous Steven Meisel’s July 2005 editorial for Vogue Italia featuring Linda Evangelista.
Bryan received wide recognition after participating in the season 19 of America's Next Top Model as a judge.
Unlike many celebrities, Bryanboy is not willing to party all night long. He is very militant when it comes to the schedule, which is, probably, the only way to endure his busy pace of life with many flights per week. According to Bryanboy, he goes to sleep by 11:30 p.m. and wakes up by 5:30 or 6 a.m.
If you ask yourself, how is it possible to stay fit and look gorgeous on pictures despite jet-lag, Bryanboy reveals his secret fitness routine. He just eats as much as he can and then he dances in the hotel room until he’s really, really sweaty. He loves going to raves too.
The 36-year-old blogger has accomplished quite a bit in the fashion world. He’s friends with a lot of famous designers (it suffices to mention that he receives love notes from Marc Jacobs), he's a digital ambassador for the Spanish high fashion brand Loewe and luxury brands such as Italian labels Valentino and Gucci, he has over 600,000 followers each on Instagram and Twitter.
He may sound impudent when answering the question who is the most legendary person in the world for him, he proclaims himself. But should we be peeved with him? After all, it is difficult to challenge the fact that he made his own legend.