Spring Fashion Feature: Guamanian Model Brandon Espiritu Praises Models of Color
From one small island to another, Brandon Espiritu didn’t know where his career would land; his dream was to be to part of the entertainment industry. Now that he’s modeled in a few big campaigns—Skechers, Sheraton Hawai‘i and Heineken—he’s proud of his work and the trailblazers before him who paved the path so that minorities, like himself, could share in the spotlight.
Brandon Espiritu is a model you have to rein in, in a good way. He arrives all pumped up, firing off look after look—sexy, sassy, serious and, of course, silly. We have to ask him to slow down so our photographer has time to actually catch every expression, but he knows his angles and how to move his body and offers suggestions on poses he thinks will showcase the clothes better. Pretty impressive from a boy from an island tucked away in the Pacific.
Growing up on Guam, Espiritu’s main Western world influences were VH1 and MTV—not the most accurate depictions, but they inspired him. “Making it out of my hometown was a big dream, but it felt out of reach,” he says. “I was lucky to grow up with my Filipino and Chamorro family. My (late) Lola [grandmother] was a cornerstone in my life. She raised me and showed me how to cook rice properly. Man, I miss that woman. But I wanted to see what was out there.”
At 18, he packed his bags for college in Hawai‘i. A few years later, he got booked for his first modeling job. “It was for a Japan clothing brand and I got to shoot at Kualoa [Ranch],” he says. “We got to ride horses, eat at Nico’s, go to a pier, and I shot it with a beautiful girl, who is now my girlfriend. It was like a first date!”
Espiritu is lucky his first booking was here, where hapa models lead the runway. However, vying for work off-island is no picnic, as he found out. “I wasn’t ‘white’ enough when I began modeling in Southeast Asia,” he says. “I had a chip on my shoulder, going up against people from known parts of the world with better resources and connections.”
“Companies are booking and paying respect to minorities who appeal to different markets and are including us in their campaigns. we now have a presence.”
The newest model in this feature, he caught a tail wind from the inclusion revolution and is now benefiting from the past and present faces of diversity. He says he’s grateful for that: “Companies are booking and paying respect to minorities who appeal to different markets and are including us in their campaigns. We now have a presence.”
The nimble 27-year-old, who aspires to be a celebrity personal trainer and actor, has modeled for Chevrolet, the Howard Hughes Corp., Skechers, Sheraton Hawai‘i and Heineken—to name a few. “I also did a First Hawaiian Bank commercial and it played in Guam,” he says. “All my friends and family were like, ‘Hey, I saw you on TV.’” It isn’t a music video, but it would’ve made his Lola very proud.
Chartreuse green stretch velvet jacket with satin details, $3,600, turtleneck sweater, price upon request, Chartreuse green stretch velvet pants with satin details, $1,300, loafers, price upon request, Gucci, Ala Moana Center, (808) 942-1148, gucci.com.
Stone Island down puffer vest, $588, Issey Miyake Plisse short sleeve shirt, $220, Plisse straight-leg pants, $325, Off-White vulcanized canvas mid-top sneakers, $365, Saks Fifth Avenue, International Market Place, (808) 600-2500, saksfifthavenue.com.