“Dad taught us never to fight over money, girls and food”

So what if Mum’s one of the pioneers of the designer fashion retail scene here? Tina Tan-Leo’s twin sons, models Brandon and Julien Leo, are not above scouring Zara for good discounts


The Moneymakers:

Julien (far left) and Brandon Leo (left), 20. The 1.82m-tall identical twins (Brandon’s older by 11 minutes) and part-time models have a famous mum — local fashion retailer Tina Tan-Leo. The luxury fashion maven was a powerhouse in the local fashion scene as owner of Link Boutique, Living the Link and now-defunct label alldressedup that she’d set up with her husband, Lionel Leo. She recently hogged headlines due to a legal tussle over her business. The boys are serving NS but harbour K-pop ambitions, having made it to the Top 10 in K-pop band BigBang’s online cover song contest four years ago, and won a 2PM dance cover contest. Oh, and Brandon’s romantically linked to model Fiona Fussi.

HOME IS: A semi-detached house in Bukit Timah with their parents.

THEIR RIDE: Julien takes public transport (“I was a bit lazy in getting my driving license”), while Brandon drives the family Toyota Altis.

WHAT’S IN THEIR WALLETS: The twins own identical leather wallets where they keep credit cards, house keys and EZ-Link cards. They also carry talismans from Hongkong’s Wong Tai Sin Temple. “My dad went there and got someone to pray over these talismans for every family member,” Brandon shares.

8 DAYS: Your mum recently made the news over a $7 million lawsuit for allegedly breaching her fiduciary duties. Has that affected you personally?

BRANDON LEO: Obviously there’s some stress, but we also bonded more as a family. We’re just glad it’s over. It took about three years for it to settle, but it finished last month. There wasn’t a drastic lifestyle change. We still follow house rules, like not wasting water and turning off the lights when we don’t need it (laughs).

JULIEN LEO: Our parents worked very hard to make sure it didn’t affect us too much, and we’re very grateful for that.

Did it affect your pocket money?
J: No, we don’t get an allowance from them anymore, and I think they’re super glad (guffaws). We get some monthly pocket money from doing NS now.

B: That’s not pocket money, it’s a salary. 

Woffles Wu is your uncle. Any grooming perks?
B: We haven’t done any [plastic surgery], but there’s always the option [of going to him for aesthetic treatments] if we want. Mostly, we just treat him as family.

J: Oh, but he’s helped us jab some scar tissues we got from cuts to speed up the healing.

Do your parents expect you to take over the family business?
J: There’s no pressure. Our priority now is to finish university first, and then maybe we’ll decide whether to carry on the family business.

B: We’ll be starting at New York University next August. Hopefully we’ll major in music or something related to entertainment or art, and get a minor in business. Our older brother is studying business there now.

You are also models. Is that a natural career choice since you come from a fashion family?
J: We’ve always been interested in fashion. Our parents were definitely influences. It was our own decision to become models, but they were very supportive. I look at modelling as a stepping stone to branch out into other things. Music and acting are my main passions. I’ve a small role in Equals, [the upcoming Nicholas Hoult and Kristen Stewart sci-fi flick that was partially filmed in Singapore]. I was one of the background extras and had a couple of lines.

Is there any sibling rivalry as to who gets more jobs?
B: We are competitive only over petty things like our running speed (laughs). But we’re definitely supportive if one of us gets more modelling jobs than the other.

J: My dad taught us never to fight over three things: money, girls and food.

B: We were [also] taught never to spend on what we cannot afford. We compare prices for things like clothing. I once bought a jacket from Zara in Hongkong for a quarter of its original price! But our parents don’t really give us tips on shopping. We just browse around on our own. Usually we’ll drop by Zara and H&M once or twice a week. We have a route where we check out all the stores, even if we’re not planning to buy anything. If one of us spots a sale, we call the other to come down and check it out.

How much do you spend on clothes?
J: Nowadays not so much, ’cos we spend most of our time in camp. I used to spend about $200 every month buying accessories like rings, T-shirts, jeans and shoes to go with my leather jackets. I mostly shop in Hongkong at Island Beverly Centre [in Causeway Bay]. We travel there regularly ’cos we have family there. The only time we buy designer clothes is maybe when we need a nice suit. Otherwise, we stick to the cool, younger brands.

B: I usually spend around $200 on the occasional blazer. If I really like it and it fits well, why not? Sometimes we go shopping as a family...and convince our parents to buy stuff for us (laughs).

What did you get for your mum for Mother’s Day recently?
J: Flowers. Brandon and I always share presents. It’s more economical that way!

B: Last year we got her a set of oils from Vom Fass. But I would never buy her clothes. Her standards for clothes are so high, we’ll never meet those standards!

J: Unless we spend a billion dollars (laughs). But I don’t know her size. 

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