THE Second IN A SERIES OF IN-DEPTH ARTICLES ON THE BIGGEST STREET STYLERS AND BLOGGERS IN THE FASHION WORLD. THIS WEEK; IT’S THE TURN OF bryan yambao.
There’s a fantastic quote in existence, that goes like this; ‘fake it until you make it’. And to be honest, the quote couldn’t be more apt for Bryan Yambao of Bryanboy, than if you wrote it directly about him. The eccentric Filipino fashion blogger who managed to blag his way to the top of the industry and into the esteem of Anna Wintour herself and land himself a role on America’s Next Top Model is the epitome of the phrase. So how did a blogger from Manila, with a background as secretive as that of an SAS officer make it into the upper echelons on fashion, onto the front row of all the major fashion shows and have a Marc Jacobs bag named after himself? (It’s called the BB, if you’re interested.) Well let’s try to figure that out.
Bryan-Grey Yambao also known as Francis Bryan Yambao grew up in Tunasan Muntinlupa, in a modest house from a family that isn’t particularly rich, yet Yambao will tell everyone he’s from a wealthy suburb of Manila called Ayala Alabang. This is the first thing you discover about the real Bryanboy; the identity and origin story he portrays doesn’t match up to the reality. He would also tell of going to Colegio San Agustina, a private Catholic co-ed school whose alumni are politicians and the influential set of Manila, yet when Rogue magazine done a feature on him back in 2012, they could find no trace of him ever being enrolled there. Similarly he tells of having done to university, but there’s no record of him having attended any university.
He launched his blog in 2004, and from what we can tell from interviews by Yambao and people who knew him is that he worked as a freelance web developer before delving into the world of fashion blogging. Both Rogue magazine and New York’s Observer newspaper allege that he set up his own online travel agency, run mostly through travel advice forums with even more dubious results. Rogue magazine claim that Yambao’s travel agency has been de-listed by the International Air Transport Association (IATA) though this couldn’t be confirmed. Rogue magazine was able to discover that a Francis Yambao Travel run by a Francis Yambao and a Gina Hall is included on a list of non-preferred travel agencies on the booking site ETN.nl.
Whatever he done before he started his eponymous blog is debatable, but you must give him credit for coming onto the blogging scene long before any of the more established blogging names like Susie Lau, Tommy Ton and Garance Doré. His blog was launched in 2004, and while it took him a few years to get recognition, by 2008 he had made it. His bold, brash writing style, combined with a wicked sense of humour got him a large legion of followers and the designer recognition he craved. In 2006 Fendi ran an ad campaign with a model posing in the iconic Bryanboy pose with one arm on the hip and the other extended outwards holding a bag. In 2009 Marc Jacobs named a bag after him after he saw on social media a fan video of Yambao professing his love for the designer. In 2010 Anna Wintour put him with eight other bloggers in the magazine’s Power Issue, for “making a global industry sit up and take notice.” Yambao had truly made it.
But while he may have been making $100,000 a year from his blog, as he told New York magazine in 2010, one question has persistently followed him since the very beginning of his blog back in 2004. How could such a young man with no real career and coming from such a lower-income area have the money to buy all the designer pieces featured on his blog?
This is where things get murky once again, as both Rogue magazine and The Observer allege that this was done through credit card fraud. Some of his oldest friends, and those who’ve only known him for a few years allege in both articles that he possessed up to 20 credit card in his wallet, all with variations of his name and cards one normally wouldn’t have access to. To be honest, if this were the case, it’s not that surprising that fashion bloggers, desperate for attention and the designer clothes they covet would go to any length to prove to themselves and their readers that this is their lifestyle. One thing I’ve learned over the four years that I’ve been blogging, is that there’s a lot of pressure to keep up with the pack. Whatever his murky origins are, he’s one of the few bloggers to have crossed genres and made it in mainstream and for that I’ve to give him a lot of credit.
So to celebrate his tumultuous rise to the top of the fashion pack, and his brash style, here’s some of his most outrageous outfits.