Bretman Rock is a work of art. When the social media star and beauty influencer is not expertly beating his face with his non-dominant hand or rating Trix cereal an eight out of ten (“I would say it’s slightly better than Fruit Loops”), he’s directing his focus to the camera for 7.89 million YouTube subscribers and 15.2 million Instagram followers. With a knack for endearingly calling viewers “bitch” without making you wince, Rock is the internet’s sassy best friend.
The aggressive positivity he radiates is the same Gen Z energy that shines bright while lifting others up (see also: Donte Colley, Rickey Thompson, and other twenty-somethings who charged the polls and OK boomer’d to boost Biden). The “posi vibes only” generation moves forward with kindness and emojis and boldly embraces authenticity, which is Rock’s speciality.
He’ll always call Hawaii his home, which is where he’s lived since he moved to America from the Philippines when he was seven years old. The backdrop of his Insta-stories are sun-drenched mountains and the occasional cameo of his mom sweeping, which helps separate him from his peers farming content in TikTok houses. Rock is on island time, taking things slow and on his own terms.
So it makes sense that he’s held back on fashion partnerships. Despite inking major beauty deals, starring in upcoming digital series No Filter with MTV, and attending New York Fashion Week, today marks his first major fashion collaboration with Dime eyewear. Now available for purchase (and for only $30 a pop), Rock worked with the eyewear brand to launch four new sunglasses, which are featured in a campaign inspired by the social media stars of the 14th century: Renaissance painters.
We chatted with Rock over Zoom, where he gave us tips for dating in quarantine, the touching reason he became a plant daddy, and the NSFW story behind his artful campaign for Dime, below.
How are you doing today?
I have a date later. So, you know, I’m feeling myself. Getting my hair flat as possible.
Are you excited? How are you feeling?
Girl. The question is, are they excited to see me? I’m never excited to see no boy, they should be excited to see me. I’m planning my hair right now because you know, I think I’m going to give him very executive realness for this date.
Is this a first date?
I wouldn’t say that. This is my very like sugar daddy vibes. Who’s not so daddyish, he just got sugar, kind of like me.
Do you have any advice for people dating right now in quarantine?
I would say, know your status, period. Doesn’t matter about if it’s HIV or COVID. If you’re going to go out on a date, you got to know your status, at least take a COVID test. Both of ya. And I would say, start with Zoom dates first. Don’t be risking your lives to go see some bitch.
How has your style evolved over the years?
I think I’ve always had this non-binary energy with me. My mom has always told me that I’m pretty and handsome at the same time. And so I kind of just believed her. And a lot of people tell me that I really could wear and do whatever the fuck I want.
I’ve always known I was non-binary and always known I wanted to wear whatever the fuck I want. But then at some point I just started dressing basic. I started dressing for other people instead of dressing for myself. And so that’s how my style has changed. I started dressing for me now.
You’ve gotten increasingly political on social media. But with everything that’s happened this year, what does “Use your platform, bitch” mean to you?
I feel like we obviously all deal with different things and we all value different things and we all believe in different things. And to me, my statement of using your fucking platform is really breaking the silence and really standing up for what you believe in. Whatever it may be, because I feel like we all should stand up for at least one thing. You know what I mean? We don’t all have to fucking save the turtles.
It’s just knowing that everybody has a voice. You do not need a check mark next to your name. You do not need millions of followers to know and to feel that you have a platform. I feel like everyone should realize that they have a platform regardless of how big their audience is.
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How did you get into houseplants?
I got into plants because when my dad passed away last November. We went back home to the Philippines and my dad had always had a greenhouse in front of our house. It kind of made me sad cause it was so full of plants and it was so luscious and he collected a lot of flowering plants, a lot of Bonsai. He loved plants.
When I got back home to Hawaii, it made me realize I didn’t fucking have any plants. And so I kind of just started buying plants, and it’s going to sound so corny, but in a way it made me feel a little connected to my dad. Knowing that he was also taking care of plants and that I didn’t realize I had a green thumb until I started getting plants — they made me a little bit closer to my dad. Because sometimes, believe it or not, he would show up in my dreams and remind me to water certain plants. I would go look at that plant the next day and it’s either half dead or it needed water.
How’s your TV show going?
Every time I go to work or the set, it makes me so grateful to be doing what I’m doing. And it’s like, wow, I really fucking manifested this shit when I was a kid. Growing up instead of watching cartoons or High School Musical and the Disney Channel, I would literally be watching fucking Bad Girls Club, America’s Next Top Model. Manifesting this shit. And I would literally always say, “I’m going to have my show one day.” It’s so weird to me that I almost fucking canceled it for a selfish reason, but it’s so fun. Oh my gosh, everyone needs to have a reality show.
Do you have any reality TV stars you’re channeling when you’re shooting?
Paris Hilton and Nicole Richie. The Simple Life was just so iconic. A lot of my personality comes from that show, also The Osbournes. But I like to say that my show is a little like a marriage of both, because it’s like family but it’s also like me trying new things.
What made you want to partner with Dime for your first big fashion collaboration?
I’m still new to the fashion industry. I didn’t want my first collab to be with a company that’s been around for a while. I kind of wanted the idea of growing with Dime. And doing my first collab with them and them having one of their first influencer collab in their fairly new company.
So, that was a plus. Dime let me be in charge, not just with the sunglasses, not just with the frames, not just with the colors, but it goes down to the packaging. I painted my own packaging, I fucking painted that shit. I wanted my turtle logo in there, and they just kind of said yes to everything. I love a brand that doesn’t tie me down and does shit for me. If I’m going to write my name on something, I want to do shit for it. I’m not just going to say yes to a pair of sunglass and put my fucking name on it without anything behind it and no story at all. You know what I mean?
Definitely. Who’s your dream celebrity you’d love to see wearing your sunglasses?
Besides myself? Girl, I’m going to just dream as big as I can. If I ever see Miss Rihanna wear my sunglasses, I would probably die.
The campaign stars yourself, done up as subjects from famous paintings. How did that idea come about?
Do you want an honest answer or a PR-ready answer?
I want an honest answer.
What the fuck was I thinking. OK, since you want to ask me what I was thinking, bitch. I was high as fuck one day. I accidentally got high. I hate when that happens. Oh, you know what I mean?
The joint just fell into your mouth.
The joint was there and I’m like, “Oh my gosh!” Anyways, I was lit, and then my manager texted me out of nowhere and she was like, “Brett, your photo shoot is coming up and we need to do something.” And I was thinking and thinking and it hit me, like the edible that I took. I really wanted to recreate paintings. I love Renaissance paintings.
And I plan on doing more recreations, hopefully later down the road with future collections. Cause there’s so many paintings that I could remake, and it’s also so cool to see a brown person as the Girl with a Pearl Earring. It’s cool to see a brown person in The Creation of Adam. I think it speaks so much more about what art actually means to people. It speaks different ways with other people. That’s what I wanted to create with these sunglasses — I really wanted someone to see my sunglasses and see that they could wear this with any type of outfit. It’s a classic frame, but it’s also kind of a nod to vintage frames.
So would you consider yourself an art heaux?
I would consider myself an artsy ho. I’ve always been, and I’ve always — even though I’m not that gifted with painting, it’s the thought that counts.
I mean, technically you’re a professional painter, if you painted the packaging.
Yes. I’m a painter. I paint my face pretty well.
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