Fashion Icon: A Cardiff influencer is working to build his brand

From reselling sneakers to building an audience of 20,000 followers, Torbian Dennis explans how to develop your brand online and start your own business.

Torbian has a full-time job as an influencer. He posts daily on Instagram.

Walk out of Cardiff central station and past the BBC offices and you might spot a well dressed man pacing up and down in front of the corrugated concrete pillars.

Come back half an hour later and you’ll prabably find him dressed in an entirely different outfit. Watch as he kneels down to check the mobile phone he has set up on a tripod in front of him and then head back to the pillar before the flash fires.

This is Torbian Dennis, he is a fashion influencer from Cardiff who has built an audience of about 20,000 followers on Instagram with his blend of vintage fashion.

“It’s hard to say whether I personally have had any effect on my followers’ clothing choices. But as long as I’m helping people see fashion through a more open mind, I’m satisfied,” he said. “And seeing creators tag me in their outfit pics and reels to say I’ve inspired them is something that never gets old.”

He began his social media fashion journey by reselling sneakers and vintage clothing online. The Instagram page was a place where he shared photos of the items he was selling, with no intention of becoming an influencer.

However, over time, he realised that he enjoyed photographing and modelling the clothing more than actually selling it.

Authenticity is important to Torbian and something he always tries to maintain, especially when it comes to clothing.

His first memory of fashion was trying to replicate what his older siblings wore. He respected them and always looked up to them, wanting to be just like them when he grew up.

As he grew older, he developed a strong passion for skateboarding. He had never attempted to find his own style before, but when he began skating at the age of 13, that started to change.

He found inspiration in professional skateboarders he watched on YouTube. He aspired to skate like them and dress like them. He doesn’t skate much anymore, but he still wears outfits inspired by his favourite skateboarders.

He thinks fashion is important to everyone, not just men. “It allows us to express ourselves without having to say a word and helps us feel comfortable in our own skin,” Torbian said. “What fascinates me about it the most is that depending on how you dress people will perceive you in completely different ways. Every day you get to wake up and choose how the world sees you.” 

“Wearing an outfit I feel comfortable in lets me be much more confident and carefree because I don’t feel like people are judging my appearance. Even if they wouldn’t have judged me, feeling good in my own skin means I care less about people’s opinions,” he said.

He shoots most of his content using an iPhone, a tripod, and a timer. There are pros and cons to doing things this way, but he enjoys the freedom of doing everything himself.

“The hardest part about shooting on my own is that I never know what the photo will look like until after I’ve shot it, which means that getting one good photo can often take 5 or sometimes 10 tries,” Torbian said.

The good news is that he is getting better at predicting what a photo will look like and what poses will work best.

Torbian believes that if people want to start shooting their own content, the best advice he can give is to start now and practice as you go.

When it comes to choosing outfits to photograph, he tends to start by choosing an item of clothing or footwear that he wants to showcase.

“Sometimes, I work with a brand that wants me to style one of their pieces. Other times, I share something I’ve been wearing a lot with my audience. Then, I build the rest of the outfit around it and hope it looks good,” he said.

Like everyone else, Tobin has his challenges in his career, especially for a full-time online content creator, staying innovative is key to retaining fans.

He said, “Keeping my content feeling fresh can definitely be a struggle at times. With how quickly trends come and go nowadays it’s often hard to keep up with them while still staying original.” 

To counter this, he finds it’s best to only follow trends that he actually enjoy and then combine them with his own style which he believes that definitely puts a unique spin on current trends.

However, he may still experience stagnation sometimes. He always tries something completely new. He said, “collaborating with other creators or looking for inspiration outside of the fashion niche normally relieves that creative block though.”

In addition, he has recently faced family issues and financial problems. However, he remains positive because he knows that many other people, not just influencers, are struggling with much more.

Torbian often photographs his outfits in the mirror before work, capturing random moments that he finds visually pleasing, or takes selfie videos as he walks down the street to help him with his work later.

Although there is no boss to evaluate his performance, he is still responsible for his fans. He said, “I feel responsible in making sure that everyone stays true to themselves. I’m hopeful that my approach to fashion will push people to dress for themselves rather than others and only follow trends they actually enjoy.”

He keep interact with his fans, a lot of them are also online content creaters. “Similarly to how I used to aspire to dress like my favourite skaters, fashion can be a way of connecting with other like-minded individuals,” he said.

“I always find inspiring people outside of the fashion niche to be the most impactful. There’s something about connecting with someone over nothing but creativity that leaves me feeling happy.”

He enjoys his job and intends to continue working in it. He believes that influencers are increasingly important in today’s fast-paced society. “People need relatable figures to look up to and brands need organic-feeling content to help promote their products, he said.

Perhaps we have all considered becoming an online celebrity, but never put in the work. Torbian believes that the hardest part about starting something is always taking the first step. 

He said, “Once you’re moving forwards you’ll learn everything there is to learn as you go. You don’t need equipment, a fancy camera or a photographer to begin with and it’s okay to make mistakes because that’s the best way to grow.

“In fact, making as many mistakes as you can early on means you won’t have to face as many bumps in the road later,” he said. “Just focus on yourself and improving upon your own work. It’s okay to be inspired by others, but don’t aim to be like others. Aim to be the best version of yourself, because that’s what people are going to start following you for.”