Fashion was never at the back of his mind until he became a model. Now, as he struts his stuff on the runway, marketing graduate Muhammad Najee Rudy shares how modelling and fashion helped boost his confidence and changed his style for the better.
Struggles and challenges equal experience
Attributing his current fashion sense to his six-year experience in the retail industry and walking the runway for modelling agency Style Series, Muhammad Najee Rudy admitted that his style went under a great deal of change compared to before.
The marketing graduate conceded that previously, “I used to dress sloppily. I didn’t even know what fashion is, I just wear whatever my mom bought me. When I entered university in 2013, that’s when I chose my own clothes for the first time!”
Despite so, Najee said he still has bad fashion sense. The 25-year-old shared that back then he had chosen an undersized t-shirt and paired it with baggy, straight cut jeans. “Looking back, I’m sure I looked pretty messy back then.
“After I worked at a fashion retail, I gradually changed my appearance and how I dress. The change became more obvious once I started modelling for Style Series,” he added.
Asked on his career as a runway model, Najee told New Sarawak Tribune in a private interview that he was actually scouted by the founder of Style Series, Geraldine Sim, who saw potential in him.
“Initially, I thought it was too good to be true! She approached me when I was at work and asked me if I would like to try my hands at modelling. I was very insecure back then and kept asking myself if this is true!” he exclaimed.
Standing at 183 centimetres tall, Najee decided to risk it, “I was always interested in something new. So when the opportunity came knocking, I said to myself why not give it a try. Who knows, maybe I have a talent in modelling.”
After walking his way through numerous shows over the years, Najee said that modelling boosted his confidence. “I had to deal with different characters and personalities. In return, my communication skills had gotten better. It helped me a lot, especially as a marketing graduate,” he said.
Engaging himself with the fashion industry, the Bidayuh-Chinese-Malay lad also learned to style himself in line with the current trend.
Working with designers helped him explore more style options that he looked best in. “From my experiences with designers, I get to see what is in trend. There, I learned about what to wear and how to style it accordingly. “Through modelling, I get to see myself standing in a completely unfamiliar attire, something I would never even thought of wearing, and realising hey, I looked good!” Najee said.
Outside, Najee maintained his appearance as his catwalk guru Yacub Taha had taught him to always be presentable. “Yacub always reminded us (the models) that we have walked the runway with numerous designers, we represent them and Style Series.”
Remembering his most awkward runway walk, Najee shared the time when he modelled for a cultural show. “I had to wear a speedo, my body was only covered with a piece of traditional cloth and I was wearing a hat. It was the most awkward walk one can have. However, the audience were yelling in excitement. I feed off the energy and just went through it. No problem.”
The dedicated male model explained that as a model, he appreciates the different style and flairs of different designer. “I usually just wear what the designers asked me to. No questions asked.”
Sharing on his first time modelling, he recalled being embarrassed on stage. “I am naturally a very shy person. I didn’t know what to do during our training session with Yacub Taha. It was all weird to me because walking and catwalk are very different.”
Elaborating, Najee said initially he thought that it was easy. “But, we had to fix our posture, fix our stop, learn when to turn. There are so many routines to follow and while it is fun, it can get very tiring.”
During his first runway show, he remembered trembling throughout. “I was shaking when I first walked the runway, but I had to control myself. Just imagine so many people looking straight at you and they are actually less than a metre away. And not to forget the flashing cameras!
“At the same time, you have to think where to stop, how to pose and that is when it gets even more nerve-racking. Furthermore, we can’t look at the audience in the eyes, it will make us even more nervous,” added Najee.
Among the other rules of walking the runway, Najee explained “We cannot smile, we can’t look at the audience, and we have to look straight ahead. These are the rules in most shows, but some designers allow you to smile. It depends.”
Aside from that, Najee also shared one of the hardest challenges is the need to maintain his body. “However, as a model, I try not to make it an issue. I try not to stress myself. If I want to have a cheat day, I will. You only live once!”
Najee paid no mind to the struggles and challenges, as being a model had taught him one thing, “Nothing comes easy.”