Serendipity. The Oxford English Dictionary defines it as “the fact of something interesting or pleasant happening by chance.” This is also how one can describe our November 2023 cover star Jan Baiboon’s foray into the fashion industry.
In 2011, Baiboon auditioned for the Thai Supermodel Contest in Bangkok and walked away with nothing. That same year, a serendipitous encounter with Fuluku Kaewkate, founder of 65 Modeling Agency Bangkok, resulted in her walking for almost every show during Bangkok Fashion Week. “I had never thought about fashion modelling before,” she admits. “But it was a new experience for me at 16 years old, and I wanted to challenge myself to try something new.”
This series of fortunate events also ended up with an introduction to a major modelling agency. New York-city based Thai photographer Mikey Asanin introduced Baiboon to Supreme Management, which catapulted the then-ingenue model into the forefront of fashion. In her first London Fashion Week as a working model, she was casted exclusively for the Burberry spring/summer 2020 show by Riccardo Tisci. Today, Baiboon walks the runways of London, Milan and Paris, and graces the covers of international magazines.
Ahead, we speak exclusively with the Bangkok native on her journey into the fashion industry, her advice for aspiring Asian models and more.
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As an Asian model on the global stage, what would you say was your biggest hurdle and how did you overcome it?
Castings in Europe were one of the biggest challenges in my modelling career—it’s really competitive there. During my first Paris Fashion Week casting season, I auditioned for no less than five brands in a day. But none of them called me back for fittings. I was a new face and an unknown in their market. However, two seasons later, I walked in the Chanel spring/summer 2022 ready-to-wear show.
Whenever I encounter obstacles, I just tell myself to keep going. I overcome tough times through positive thinking. Even when I’m discouraged, I don’t give up. When you accomplish what you’ve been working towards, you gain a sense of joy that’ll be the driving force behind your next goal. For instance, when I did the Chanel show, I smiled all day long. True happiness is when your dream becomes reality.
When you first started modelling, was there anyone you looked up to in the industry?
I can’t say that there was anyone in particular. I was very young and saw modelling as work, so I wasn’t that interested in the fashion scene.
You’re on the cover of our wanderlust issue. Are you big on travelling?
I love travelling. I first visited London in 2019 for modelling gigs, and had a few short leisure trips to Brighton. It’s also the first city I visited in Europe back then, so it’s one of my favourite travel destinations. Currently, Utah is on my travel bucket list.
What are your travel must-haves, and why?
While travelling, I like to stay healthy by ensuring I get adequate sleep and hydration as much as possible. But my essential is a Thai herbal inhaler called Ya Dom.
Lastly, what advice do you have for aspiring young Asian models?
Do what makes you happy, and remember that learning can be a very nice and positive experience.
*This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.
Editor-in-Chief: Kenneth Goh
Photographer: Alvin Kean Wong
Creative Director: Windy Aulia
Stylist: David Taveras
Fashion: Balenciaga, Falke, Thom Browne
Director of Photography: Nick Sgaglione
Executive Production: May Lin Le Goff for Aries Rising Projects
Production Manager: Nikki Cardona
Hair: Dale Delaporte
Makeup: Chi Chi Saito
Casting Director: Alexander Torres
Talent: Jan Baiboon at Supreme Management
Photo Assistants: Naoki Fukuda, Takeki Yasuda
Styling Assistant: Natalie Stevenson