The 24-year-old influencer is a style chameleon and skillful shopper who brings a sense of humour to everything he does.
Bretman Rock’s sense of style is quite simple: he doesn’t have one. Sure, the social media phenomenon attends runway shows, walks red carpets and appears on the cover of magazines. But when it comes down to it, his taste in fashion, like pretty much every other part of his identity, is impossible to categorize. And that makes it all the more fun.
The Hawaii-based content creator, reality TV star, and newly-minted memoir author has crafted his pop-culture presence around doing all things without limitations — and that includes getting dressed. At the start of our video call, the multi-hyphenate reminds me yet again of his flare for fluidity by playfully reciting a now-famous catchphrase. “I am very much a singer, songwriter, actor, actress, activist and a scientist on the side,” he says. “But because I wear so many hats per se, I need a lot of hats.”
Hence his fashion direction — or lack thereof. “I don’t really have a sense of style because my sense of style is kind of like all the hats I wear. It’s just dependent on what I feel like I’m doing that day. I feel like because I am non-binary, it gives me the power to play with not only, ‘What am I wearing today?’ but, ‘What gender am I going to pull from today?’”
As we chat, he’s perched in a retro orange chair resembling a pod, wearing cozy blue pyjamas with his hair tied up in space buns. “I think [people put] too much pressure on clothes all the time,” he tells me. But in Bretman Rock’s world, getting dressed is nothing but a delight. He will take an objectively unpleasant wardrobe mishap and make it look intentional. He bundles up in Hawaiian weather for the sole sake of channelling a Christmas movie scene. At this point, the Filipino influencer is an outfit-picking expert. And as the global ambassador of the shopping and payments service Klarna, he’s further refined those skills. Below, Bretman Rock shares his advice for developing an out-of-the-box sense of style.
Tip #1: Remember that trends are not always your friends
“My biggest fashion regret is always following trends, because I do not like to feel basic. I’m too much of a Leo. I feel like you can only really find your sense of style when you try not to wear what everybody else is wearing and focus on what you really want to wear. Wear whatever makes you comfortable. I mean, I’m wearing space buns in a literal cocoon right now. Just don’t be basic.”
Tip #2: Make getting dressed an occasion, even if you’re wearing sweatpants
“I feel like people expect me to always be dressed up. But that’s just my fashion week persona. That is not me. When I’m home, I’m literally just in sweats. If anything, I would rather be naked sometimes.
“In Hawaii, our fall and winter are just rainy days — and I love dressing up for a rainy day. I don’t think there’s anything I love dressing up for more. I just love being so dramatic. Like, heating up my hot chocolate, playing music and pretending that it’s freezing outside and I’m being snowed in. I literally got mittens and a furry hat just for that.”
Tip #3: Love your outfit, even when it doesn’t love you back
“The other day when I was at a Kehlani concert, I was wearing Acne Studios snakeskin yellow leather pants, and [the back side ripped]. I was sweating so much, and the sweat and the leather were sticking together, which is the worst feeling ever. It stretched it so much that [the whole butt tore].
“I brought with me like four safety pins, and that’s what I used to keep my pants closed. But it’s a Kehlani concert, and I will be twerking. So I just kept twerking all the pins off. At that point, the rip had gone all the way down to my thigh, and there was just no saving it. I was like, let’s wrap the night up. Let’s go home girl.
“But I would say wardrobe malfunctions happen for a reason. Because if my pants didn’t break, I might not have gotten the attention that I wanted from the really hot man who said hi to me that night. It was really fate. So, embrace the malfunction. You can just say, ‘I meant for that to happen.’”
Tip #4: Ignore the labels — literally
“Labels don’t ever really matter. Regardless of if it’s a high-end brand or not, or if it’s woman’s clothing or men’s clothing, I feel like labels are so outdated. It’d be really cool to see clothes with no labels one of these days. So when you go shopping, you don’t have to go to only the men’s or women’s section. Go to all the sections, because they’re just clothes at the end of the day. [People put] too much pressure on clothes all the time. This unisex era that we’re going through? I think it’s the right path.”
Tip #5: Choose quality over quantity
“When shopping online, first of all, try your best to not do any fast fashion. [Instead, invest in one good quality piece.] With Klarna, if you can’t pay for it now, pay for it later. To save more money, compare prices on different websites before you buy. People don’t think I do this, but I literally check every website. Because I hate when I buy something and then I see it at Saks or Nordstrom for cheaper than I got it. So check everywhere before you buy, because it’s such a commitment.”