Home Fashion Styles Supermodel Shanina Shaik on the Australian Fashion Industry, diversity, and her style...

Supermodel Shanina Shaik on the Australian Fashion Industry, diversity, and her style influences


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When you were 17, you moved to New York to pursue a career in modeling. Are you exactly where your heart is?
I have seen a lot of change in the modeling industry over the years. I’ve had to merge and change as part of that journey. The social media world has been the greatest difference because we’re more present than ever before. But it’s great to be 31 and still modelling. Ten years ago, models were told that their careers would end at the age of 27. I love the fact that everyone is more open to inclusion, regardless of age, shape or size. Being racially diverse and racially mixed myself, I feel at ease where I am. But, there is so much more I want to do in my career.

You are a cultural mix of Australian, Saudi, Pakistani, Lithuanian and Saudi descent. Did you grow-up in a religious home or with any traditions?
No, I didn’t grow up in a religious family. I was taught to live my life with passion and follow my dreams. I am the oldest of my four siblings and have three younger brothers. My family taught me to be thoughtful, caring, and compassionate. I am more of a spiritual person I’d say, and very focused on my mental health. As I age, this is something I have made more time for. I learned how to be mindful of my mental health in a busy industry. It’s about being happy to be in a place that is inclusive of others.

“In my industry, where busy is normal, I have learned how to focus on taking care of my mental state. It’s about being happy to be in a place that is inclusive of others.”

What was your parent’s reaction to lAre you leaving your family home?
I think it’s quite scary for any parent to see their kid move to the other side of the world, but I’m very grateful to have supportive parents who allowed me to go on my journey. My mum and dad always tell me to do the things that make me happy because it will make them happy. They know that I am dedicated to my career and hardworking. As a teenager, I was a high achiever who was always independent. This trait has been applied to my work. They knew I had an idea and my dad has always been supportive of my choices.

Shanina wore a Scotch & Soda jacket ($370) and jeans ($290).Credit:Manolo Campion

Are you worried that your ethnicity may have prevented you from getting modeling work in the beginning?
I don’t think I was embraced at the start of my career in Australia. I had to go to another country to find my identity and feel accepted. The industry wasn’t quite the same in Australia compared to overseas. I think it’s moving in the right direction now.

What was it like to meet Karl Lagerfeld and Oscar de la Renta in 2012?
Being asked to walk for Chanel at Paris Fashion Week and meeting Karl Lagerfeld are two of the greatest moments in my life. “pinch me, did this happen?” moment. It was amazing to be chosen to walk on his show. I was also photographed by Tom Ford for two seasons. I was at home with my mother when I received the call that Oscar de la Renta had booked me to walk for them. It was my first season as an actress.


How did you find your personal style?
I’ve become more comfortable in the last four years. When I was 30, I realized that my 20s were about learning. I’m sure of myself now and who I am. I enjoy a mix of high-end and low-end brands, vintage pieces, and supporting small businesses. I love oversized men’s blazers and sneakers, military boots and I steer away from high heels. I wear athleisure, but I dress it up with fashion pieces such as a shirt and sneakers.

What advice would you give to your younger self?
I’d say don’t worry so much; believe in yourself always and don’t listen to people’s opinions of you.

“Being asked to walk for Chanel during Paris Fashion Week and meeting Karl Lagerfeld will always be a ‘pinch me, did this happen?’ moment.”




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How do you feel about models being social media activists?
I like the freedom to express my personality through social media. The industry needs models that can be active in calling out wrongdoings and providing a safe space for people to speak up.

What’s it like to be living in LA after 10 years in New York City?
LA is officially my home. After the pandemic, I needed a plan that would be steady for me and bought my first LA house last year. I am always on the go and often live out of my suitcase so I wanted somewhere I could call my home. After 10 years in New York I was ready for a bigger place. Having grown up in Melbourne I know what it’s like to have a backyard, and I get that now. It’s cool.

Shanina wears Polo Ralph Lauren shirt, $249, from David Jones, and Marie de Monterey jeans, $275.

Shanina wore a Polo Ralph Lauren shirt, $249 from David Jones and Marie de Monterey jeans at $275.Credit:Manolo Campion

You’re in a new relationship with record label owner Matthew Adesuyan. How’s it going?
I’m in a good place. I’ve been with my boyfriend for almost two years and we’re doing great. Being in love is a wonderful thing. He lives in LA as well.

You’re celebrating 12 years working with Italian brewers Peroni – that is a long partnership.
Peroni was the first company I worked with at Sydney Fashion Week 2010. Their inclusive approach is something I like. They’ve introduced a new non-alcoholic beer, Peroni Libera, that I’ll be toasting with at the Peroni x Aston Martin F1 Team cocktail party. The brand makes it easy to want to eat pasta in Italy.

Let us know about your skincare plans.
I am currently exploring my own skincare line, and hope to have it ready soon. It’s something I am passionate about and it’s been on my list for some years. I think it’s the right moment.

Peroni will be welcoming Shanina Shahik as a special guest at the Australian Formula One Grand Prix.

Styling Nadene Dunkle; Make-up Aimie Fiebig with Sisley Paris; Hair Michele Mcquillan with R+Co; Fashion assistant Jessica Rolfe

Click here to read more Sunday Life magazine.

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