Patric Seng is a talented entrepreneur who started his career as a model in his native Malaysia, working with luxury brands and walking the runway at New York Fashion Week. However, he didn’t always feel that he and other Asian models were represented fairly in the fashion industry. So he founded his agency Bintang Models & Management to provide a platform for models with multicultural and diverse backgrounds.
The Last Fashion Bible spoke to Seng about the rise of diversity in fashion, his top men’s grooming tips and the best advice he’s ever received.
What was your inspiration to found Bintang Models & Management?
I began modelling in Malaysia at the age of 17 where I did magazine work, walked runway shows, TV commercials and modelled for both Calvin Klein (during a promotional event) and Thierry Mugler. I enjoyed working in front of the camera, the production crew and all the creative people. I always feel inspired by working in the industry.
After graduating in Malaysia, I came to New Zealand to further my studies. I continued some modelling work after graduating from university and represented one agency after another, but I wasn’t entirely comfortable, as Asian models are not commonly recognised.
So, I decided to start up my own agency to advocate for models who are from diverse backgrounds and nurturing them to the pathway of fashion modelling, being front of the camera for television and find confidence through our own agency’s productions.
It has been incredible to work with so many beautiful personalities and witness some who are still thriving in the industry, even though they are no longer with my agency. I believe knowledge is power. Having grown up in a multicultural country, I admire and appreciate beauty in every human nature.
What’s the point of difference for Bintang Models & Management in the fashion industry?
It is not easy to break into the industry — so many have tried, but failed and decided not to continue… When I decided to start the agency, I did ask myself if it was something I wanted to take on. But having been discriminated as an Asian model in the past, I made a promise to myself to work really hard and make sure the industry took consideration in using diverse models more seriously, to recognise the beauty of all humankind. When we first started, I received many messages from the industry that described us as ‘so different’, as a ‘breath of fresh air’ and that they ‘loved the diversity’.
You walked the runway during NYFW 2016. Can you tell us about that experience? How did it happen? Can you describe how it felt?
INSANE! [Laughs] I did a lot of work before I got on to that golden runway in NYFW and it was my very first trip to New York, too. You probably can tell how excited I was by just reading this! I met New York designer Clavon Leonard at New Zealand Fashion Week, back in 2014. Clavon is a very nice person. He’s so engaging and lovely to talk to — and the most inspiring thing I can say of him is his influence on the black fashion community. His models travelled with him to NZFW and they are gorgeous, diverse faces. I believe we have a lot in common, and we still stay in touch.
In 2015 I met him again and I asked the question if I travelled to New York, could I walk for him and he said YES! I planned a year ahead for NYFW 2016 walking for his Clavon Wear show!
What is the best career advice you’ve received?
I have been navigating the fashion industry for quite some time and I am truly blessed with so much support, as I met some kind mentors on this journey. The industry is always described as a ‘very cut-throat’ environment and it is. In fact, not many people can really break through.
The best advice I’ve had is to choose who you want to associate with, and build that relationship and let it flourish organically. It is a competitive market, so everyone kind of knows everyone. It’s good to spend time establishing your brand at a high standard while networking with the right people.
Do you have a career highlight?
Definitely walking for Clavon at NYFW then returning home to New Zealand and fronting the campaign for Crane Brothers.
Can you offer advice for anyone who wants to become a model?
In the world of modelling, you can rise to the top and can fall to the bottom. If you think you have what it takes to make a career as a model, I advise any aspiring model to start with proper training, or learn yourself by using the free online resources — that will give you a steady foundation before you approach an agency for representation. By understanding your own goals, you’ll have a better direction to navigate this industry, and people will take you more seriously.
Who have been some of your favourite brands to collaborate with, both locally and internationally?
Clavon Leonard, Crane Brothers, Working Style, Aquila and Calibre.
Your skin and hair always look flawless, so you must have a few great grooming tips! What are your top three?
- Good habits go a long way — eat well, sleep well and get regular exercise.
- Always stay hydrated — and I mean water, not alcohol!
- Choose the right skincare — a daily routine is important, so don’t skip your ‘skin food’!
How would you describe your style?
Modern sleek with a touch of glam.
What’s your favourite piece of clothing you’ve ever bought?
I have too many!
Do you have a favourite designer?
Right at this moment, Tom Ford, Olivier Rousteing at Balmain, and Marc Jacobs.
What staple item should every man have in his wardrobe?
A nice, crisp white shirt.
Where can we follow you?
Instagram and LinkedIn, it’s @PatricSeng.
What don’t you leave the house without?
It has to be my lip balm, I have to say — my lips have to be moisturised 24/7!