By Faten Omar
With millions of views on TikTok, a 32-year-old content creator is taking over the Internet by storm with the “catwalk” trend, turning the streets of Kuwait into a fashion runway and making citizens and residents wonder: “Who is he? Why does he dress like this?”
Islam Mansori stepped into the modeling career five years ago. Other than TikTok, he has appeared in various fashion shows and modeled for local and international brands. Kuwait Times spoke to Mansori to learn more about his modeling career, lifestyle and future plans.
Kuwait Times: Tell us more about yourself.
Mansori: I am from Egypt, but was born and raised in Kuwait. I have always had this dream about being famous and getting noticed. My friends introduced me to the fashion industry five years ago. My family is strict and did not accept at the beginning the idea of me being a fashion model and dressing in a certain way, but they have accepted it now.
KT: How did you decide to be a professional model? Who or what inspired you?
Mansori: My friends encouraged me. I met some photographers and videographers, who urged me to pose for pictures. I posted the images online and started to gain followers, and people liked what they saw. I didn’t expect to become a model. Luxury brands then reached out to me like Gucci, Kenzo, Farfetch, Harvey Nichols and many more, along with many local brands.
KT: Tell us more about your “catwalk” trend on TikTok.
Mansori: It started as a social experiment – the way people react gives me a push to expand more, and not only in Kuwait. The trend is to walk everywhere until a modeling agency recognizes you. My friend Faisal suggested doing it and getting the reaction of people in Kuwait’s to our fashion style. We acted like we are walking down the runway, striking poses and showing off our fashion sense. This has also led to a rise in the popularity of fashion-related content, in addition to promoting body positivity and getting good energy from people’s reactions.
KT: What was your first job? How did it feel?
Mansori: My first job was with a local fashion brand. I felt very shy and nervous in front of the cameras at first, but controlled and hid my emotions. Later, I felt like a kind of hero, believing I am doing something big. My poker face played a big role in modeling.
KT: What is your dream modeling job?
Mansori: My dream job was working with Gucci, and I was lucky and got that chance last year. They invited me to their show in Dubai – I thought it was a scam and did not believe it. But they confirmed I was invited to their event in Dubai with a chance to collaborate.
KT: What do you enjoy most about modeling?
Mansori: The attention I get from it, although I am not an attention seeker.
KT: If you were not a model, what would you do?
Mansori: Police officer. I love to protect and achieve peace for everyone. Maybe this is also a part of my message through fashion in an indirect way. I respect the culture and laws of Kuwait, but the style reflects the personality. When you refuse to show people what you want to wear, you will lose yourself. My style is a message to people that you can do whatever you want if there is no infringement on others’ freedoms.
KT: What advice would you give someone starting out?
Mansori: Be yourself, do whatever you believe in and do not let people control you.