From left: (On David Matthew) Coat, Kenzo. Trousers; boots, Moncler. Necklace, stylist’s own. (On Raynold Tan) Shirt; trousers, Kenzo. Boots, Salvatore Ferragamo. (On David Eung Hao) Jacket; trousers; boots, Kenzo.

One afternoon, while at a roadside stall in his hometown of Battambang, Cambodia, David Eung Hao, 20, received a text message from his mother with a photo of him just taken a few minutes ago, squatting on the ground and eating mookata with his friends.

He was baffled. “I remembered my first reaction was to look around me. I mean, how did sheeven get this photo. Plus, we were not even in the city centre,” he recalls. That was the moment that the Singapore-based aspiring model and actor realised that he had become TikTok-famous (his handle is @mr.davidd__). “I guess you always have to be conscious of everyone around you because you never know who recognises you and is watching your every move. Until today, I still do not know who sent my mum that image but it is a funny memory I’ll never forget,” he says.

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BAZAAR Man Nov22 David Eung Hao
On David Eung Hao: Sweater, Moncler.

Fellow TikTok content creator and actor, David Matthew (@davidmatthew_), 26, also shares a similar experience. “Recently, at a wedding, a friend took a photo to share with their friend. I do not know how the photo got around but my mother’s friend saw it and forwarded it to her,” he shares. “My mum then texted me to ask if I was at a wedding, and why I was wearing a suit.”

Being recognised in public comes with the territory. Raynold Tan, 24, a final-year Psychology major at the National University of Singapore, is often approached by fans who call him by his TikTok handle @Raytyr. “Some of my course mates do recognise me, and after speaking to me in class, will then ask if I’m the ‘guy from TikTok’. For the most part, they have all been very nice to me.”

For these three rising stars of TikTok, to say that the platform has changed the conventional roadmap to fame is an understatement. In fact, being on the platform has led to acting roles and commercial work. Over the last year or so, Tan has appeared in a short film, a web drama and a TV commercial. Eung and Matthew can both be seen in local English action drama Third Rail. One no longer has to be in a blockbuster movie or to cut an album to get started in the entertainment industry these days. All you need is a phone, a trending piece of content, and a large follower count to make that content go viral. And TikTok-famous they certainly have become, having amassed a combined following of over 250,000 followers.

“It is all still very surreal to me,” says Eung, who is also affectionately known as HaoHao to his friends and adoring fans. “When people come up and are very excited to take a selfie with me, I always wonder what I’ve done to receive this kind of attention and love.”

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BAZAAR Man Nov22 David Matther, Raynold Tan, And David Eung Hao
From top: (On Hao) Sweater; trousers, Etro. Boots, Kenzo. (On Tan) Shirt; trousers, Etro. Boots, Salvatore Ferragamo. (On Matthew) Sweater; trousers, Etro. Boots, Moncler.

Eung, Matthew and Tan are typical of Gen Z, who favour TikTok for posting content that is rawer and represents a more authentic version of themselves as opposed to Instagram’s more polished, curated content. Tan says that what he posts on TikTok is an accurate reflection of what he is genuinely like in real life. “On Instagram, there is a certain benchmark that I have for each of the photos I post. Basically, I have to look good,” Tan explains. “But for TikTok, that is not really important, and I don’t really plan what I want to post. It is more about what is trending, or what I can do to have fun and show off my personality.

“For HaoHao, though, it’s very easy. All he has to do is to stare at the screen, press record, and post. The video will explode,” Tan adds, before breaking into laughter, with Matthew joining in.

Eung does not deny Tan’s observation but adds, “I think all content creators have some sort of plan in terms of posting schedules. However, when it comes to content, it is whatever feels right at the moment. Too much planning makes it look forced.”

All three are currently represented by artiste management company TCP Media Group, and have come together numerous times to collaborate on various videos. While they each have their own online personas, their rapport is unmistakeable. Throughout the interview, the boys support one other in their responses, often paying compliments to one another, though they are do not shy away from taking a good-humoured jab when the opportunity arises, like how siblings would take a dig at one another.

“When the three of us come together to do a video, we would just go to our ‘liked’ section on the app and scroll through to see what the trending song is at the moment,” says Matthew before adding, half-jokingly, that if all else fails, just “show some skin.” It’s a strategy that seems to have worked for him. Last year, he took part in a viral TikTok trend called the Infinity Challenge, which had creators using a light source, usually a ring light or glow sticks, to show off the bodies they are proud of. “After I posted that video—which I did two versions of at the request of some followers—my follower count jumped dramatically,” says Matthew.

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BAZAAR Man Nov22 David Matthew
Coat; shorts, Coach. Boots, Moncler. Necklace, stylist’s own.

To keep his fanbase happy, he now chooses clothes that show off his toned physique. “Previously, my style was quite simple—usually black, oversize tops with jeans and sneakers, or maybe tucked-in t-shirts with cargo pants,” he says. “But now I’ve been exploring tank tops and vests, and I am becoming a bit more experimental in my choices.”

Like Harry Styles, who he says is his style icon, Matthew is not averse to shopping in the women’s section, adding that he realised it offers “so many options that fit me just right and show the outline of my body.” Tan also admires and aspires to Styles’ brand of sartorial flair. “He is a good example of who I try to be also, in terms of style, because I like to try different styles and outfits, too. He is adventurous, bold, and is not afraid to experiment with his own femininity. And I think that is very cool.”

Eung, on the other hand, looks up to Hong Kong-born K-pop singer Jackson Wang, who founded his own luxury streetwear label Team Wang. “He does not really have a specific style, I think. But he is also not afraid to be experimental.” So, does Eung want to be like Jackson Wang, asks a curious Matthew. No, not really, says Eung. “I want to be David Eung Hao. Having said that, Jackson Wang, if you see this, please call me.”