In 2016 Sabah Koj was the first African model to open Australian fashion week, now she's walking for Victoria's Secret and strutting the couture runways of Paris, London and New York. The 21-year-old is currently taking the fashion world by storm and using that influence to help bring diversity to the mainstream.
Born in Khartoum, Sabah lived in Sudan until the age of three, before fleeing to Egypt with her family and finally settling in Melbourne at the age of seven in 2005. Upon her return home to Australia after modelling in some of the world's most prestigious shows and campaigns, Sabah reflects on all she's achieved.
In 2016, you were the first African model to open Australian Fashion Week. Do you think diversity in the Australian/Global fashion scene has changed much since then?
Yes, I believe there has been a strong shift towards diversity within the fashion industry as now models of all shades and ethnic backgrounds are working and having the opportunity to have successful careers in the industry.
Your story inspires a lot of those with similar backgrounds to you. Do you feel pressure in the work you do because of this?
I don’t feel pressured, I feel honoured to be able to inspire those with similar backgrounds, and it motivates me to work hard knowing that there are people who look up to me.
You landed your first Victoria’s Secret Runway show in 2018. What is working for the brand like, and what does being on that runway mean to you?
Working with Victoria Secret was amazing, and it was very nerve-racking at first but the team behind the scenes made me feel comfortable and they advised me to just have fun and be myself on that runway and that’s exactly what I did. Being on the runway meant I could achieve anything I put my mind to and being able to share the runway with such amazing icons that I look up to really felt special to me and the support systems that I had at Victoria's Secret and outside meant so much to me.
You recently got to walk the runway with the legendary Grace Jones. What was that like?
It was such a surreal moment to have - not only did we share the runway but I was able to have a conversation with the icon and take pictures and it was definitely a fangirl moment!
What has been your most defining career moment?
Walking Victoria's Secret Fashion Show was definitely a huge moment for me as it has been a dream since I was a little girl.
We often only get to see a highlight reel of your work life. Have there been any moments where it’s been really tough?
The toughest moments for me is when I miss my family and friends and the best way to overcome it is when I FaceTime them daily and look forward to my next trip home.
Does your South Sudanese heritage come into play in your style?
Yes definitely as I love to wear my head wraps and pops of colours in my style.
WATCH: Behind The Scenes At The Victoria's Secret Fashion Show.
This article originally appeared on marie claire Australia.