It’s not just him. “A lot of influencers are freaking out because engagement is so low. The algorithm changes, and then people are moving onto TikTok.” I asked him how he’s been able to adapt continually—his career now seems longer than the tenure of the average designer at a luxury house. “I think you just need to adapt with the times to what you know, to where and how you connect with your audience.”
Now, “I don’t even have time to paint my nails,” and one imagines that his Instagram audience might feel the same way. He’s exploring video, which he thinks “could be something fun to do,” though not TikTok, because “it’s for young people.” (Ok, boomers???)
We went outside to get a car to the Marc Jacobs show. Veronika Heilbrunner, editor-influencer-publisher and wife to Justin O’Shea, joined us. Bryanboy lit a cigarette. “I don’t know,” he said, sounding terribly worried all of a sudden. “Where do you think this is going?”
Before I could answer, Heilbrunner chimed in. “Everyone is always asking this,” she said. “‘What’s next, what’s next, what’s next?’ Who cares?”
“Everyone,” she said, “is our age anyways.”
So what are the monetary realities for an influencer like Bryanboy today? In our post-Fyre Fest world, things seem more…modest. Bryanboy pays for all his travel—he doesn’t like “the obligation” of having to post about a place that’s giving him a discount or freebie—and he doesn’t get paid to go to fashion shows. That’s both on principle and the new way of the world. “And you know, there is no such thing—‘Oh, we’re gonna pay you to sit front-row.’ That is like, 2008, 2009. Times have changed.” Instead, what he gets paid to do are what he calls “activations,” in which he takes over a brand’s social channel for a show, or puts together a series of Instagram stories “surrounding the bag,” for example. He added, “If I have to produce like four pictures, then that’s a sponsored post. So [there are] different kinds of activations, from posting store events, or attending store events, or store openings, or promoting that store.”
When I asked him how much he makes per post, he said, “It ranges.” Enough to pay your rent? “It’s not…. It really depends.” He’s willing to work for less for a brand he really loves that doesn’t have much of a budget. His number is closer, he said, to “the price of a coat.” Like a Chanel coat, or a Tibi coat? “Definitely not a Chanel coat. More like a Gucci coat”—which are mostly in the $3,000-$4,000 range.