Fashion Insider: The Models Lab KL founder Ayyman Rahim redefines the fashion scene with a wave of local faces

Breaking the glass ceiling


By Benedict Unang

Featured images courtesy of Ayyman Rahim
Fashion Insider: The Models Lab KL founder Ayyman Rahim redefines the fashion scene with a wave of local faces

In the captivating landscape of modelling, the allure extends far beyond the lens of a camera and the glimmering lights of the runway. For many budding models, stepping into this realm involves more than striking poses or strutting down the catwalk—it’s about weaving a career full of dreams. Much like the supermodels we see today, success in the industry often hinges on the crucial role played by modelling agencies as model bookers act as the bridges linking creative visionaries with aspiring models.  

In the Malaysian setting, where dedicated local agencies are a rarity, The Models Lab KL emerges as a transformative force. Founded by Ayyman Rahim in 2018, this agency has become a stalwart presence, committed to showcasing the unique charm and diversity of local beauty. Ayyman was driven to launch the agency after witnessing the exploitation of homegrown models, who frequently had to work as freelancers and put up with little pay as well as unfavourable working conditions simply to sustain their careers.

The Models Lab KL arose as a remedy, ensuring that local models are treated with respect and given the opportunities they rightfully deserve. Today, the model agency has signed some of the biggest names in the community, including Shikin Gomez, Tuti Noor, Natalie Prabha and Nia Atasha. In this edition of Fashion Insider, we speak with Ayyman about his proudest moments, significant lessons learned since the inception of The Models Lab KL, and his optimistic outlook for the modelling industry in Malaysia.



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A post shared by Ayyyyyman Rahim (@ayymanrahim)


What was your first fashion memory?

“When I was younger, I didn’t like wearing clothes that were sold in stores because I thought menswear in those days was too plain or boring. So I made some sketches, bought my own fabrics and designed my own tops.”


How would you describe your style?

“Oversized pants + oversized shirts + vibrant colours!”


Who have been some of your role models or inspirations, and why?

“My role model is Andrew Tan, the founder of Andrews Models and KL Fashion Week. I used to intern and work full-time for him—he is the one who made me who I am today and provided me the platform to launch my career in the industry.”



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A post shared by THE MODELS LAB KL (@themodelslabkl)


What do you feel most proud of from your entire career?

“I’m very honoured that my agency represents the bulk of the local A-list models. To this day, I still feel the excitement when I see them on the runway and gracing the covers of magazines because most of our models didn’t have the chance to do so in the past.”


What is the biggest lesson that you have learned since you started The Models Lab KL?

“I’ve learned not to compromise the rates for my models, especially if I know they are the best at what they do. Many people think that models should be paid at the same rate when they first started when, in reality, they should be paid more as they have gained more experience over time. Other than that, I think we should give up on the idea that anyone with good looks or height can be a model. It takes more than these traits to do well in this world.”


What qualities should a model have?

“First things first, discipline. You can have the best looks and height in the industry, but you won’t remain long in the business if you have poor timing, attitude, and communication skills. I also believe that passion and determination can take you a long way—you must always strive to be a better model.”



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A post shared by THE MODELS LAB KL (@themodelslabkl)


What are your hopes for the future of the modelling industry in Malaysia?

“I hope that the local faces are taken more seriously because I believe that our models are just as valuable as those who come from other countries. We need more Malaysians on magazine covers, fashion campaigns, fashion shows, and TV commercials.”


What hopes do you have for The Models Lab KL in the years to come?

“I would like to expand the team, bring on more models to the agency, and get investors to grow the business.”


What’s next for you?

“I will keep on looking for fresh faces to be the next top models of our industry.”


What would you be if you were not a model booker?

“I think I will work as an event manager because I have a background in event management. If not, I will continue to work as a fashion stylist.”




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