Originally from Moorea, Tim Maiau has been a male model for six years. After starting in Tahiti, Tim left for South East Asia where he encountered success.
How was your journey to get there?
Tim Maiau: I started quite young in Tahiti. I did my first ad shoots for Arnott’s, Rotui, and Suzuki at age 12. Following this, I took part in Tahitian Move’s first campaign in 2009. The designer Alberto Vivian recruited me and I took part in a number of fashion shows for Pull-In Tahiti, for local pearl and clothing designers and for the Marilyn Agency competition. More recently, I modelled for the Robert Wan 40-year anniversary event. I also participated in ad shoots for Nescafé and Vini, among others. In 2011, I was a student when my overseas career began in Canada. Then in Thailand, I signed up with Red Modelling, a well-renowned agency. Since then, I have landed contracts in Thailand, Malaysia, Japan and lately, Hong Kong.
What do you like about modelling?
Freedom. I have the opportunity to travel and meet incredible people. That’s without counting all the privileges I have as a model. Best of all, I get paid to do this. Who could ask for more? The drawback is that I have to be flexible to travel and know how to adapt because I am called to move to a new city or another country every 3 or 4 months. Agencies are not always available to guide me, so I have to be resourceful. I have had to learn to be very adaptable and to overcome the unexpected.
How do you explain your success?
A good male model is photogenic with a handsome face and square jaw. I can only thank my parents for the good genes I inherited. My height of 1m 89 (6’ 2”) has been in my favor, especially on fashion runways and for other public events. Being very athletic. I look pretty fit, which sets me apart from other male models who have a much thinner physique. I have an advantage over them, particularly in the underwear and swimsuit market. Also, I am versatile because I model in fashion and advertising. My Asian side with my slanted eyes corresponds exactly with the profile sought out in advertising here. The male model’s personality also counts a lot. If clients appreciate working with you, it’s a mark of success. It is often said, “70 % personality, 30 % physique.” This shows that it is not just a question of beauty!
Are male models less in demand than female models?
We hear of women’s modelling careers more often than men’s. Because the public is different, female models often attract the attention of both sexes. Male models are more popular with the female gender. Even if female models are more recognized than male, I don’t think male models are less appreciated. On the other hand, a man has an advantage because his career often lasts longer. When a man ages, he becomes more mature, more mysterious and acquires more sex appeal. In the collective consciousness, men age better than women do.
Have you had the opportunity to work with, or meet, famous fashion designers?
While in Hong Kong recently working for Calvin Klein, I met Kevin Carrigan, Calvin Klein’s world-renowned global creative director. During Bangkok Fashion Week, I rubbed shoulders with a number of great international and local designers. I also appeared in many fashion and editorial publications, notably Harper’s Bazaar, Men Thailand, L’Officiel, Volume Magazine and Lips Love Magazine, for which I did the cover. In Bangkok, I did a lot of ad shoots for Coca-Cola, Samsung and Lee Jeans. I had the chance to meet several famous local actors and actresses on set. I even played football with the Thailand national team for a local energy drink commercial.
Your future projects?
For now, I plan on pursuing my career in Asia. In the past few months, a number of agencies in the United States and Europe have shown interest in me. I hope these opportunities will come to fruition. I would like to come back to the fenua (homeland) more often. My last visit was a year ago and I miss my family a lot. I am originally from the island of Moorea in the municipality of Haapiti-Tiahura. My mother is Tahitian of Chinese origin and my father is Tahitian, a true local. I have an older sister and a younger brother. Besides my family, what I miss most are bodyboarding, the lagoon, and of course, ma’a (food) from home.
What do you think of the fashion world and design in Tahiti?
Perhaps I am not the best qualified person to respond to this question as it has been quite a while since I left my country. However, I have attentively kept in touch with Tahiti’s major fashion events such as Tahiti Fashion Week and the Hani Haring Creation in Fiji. I think it is great that Tahiti steps up to the international world of fashion by organizing such events that continue to promote local designers and give them greater exposure. The next step will be to find ways to export the knowledge and originality of our designers onto the international scene.
In Tahiti, men don’t seem to put a lot of effort into fashion. They prefer surf wear. What do you think?
It’s true that many Polynesians all dress the same way, in either beach or surf wear. The reasons are diverse. In Tahiti, we really don’t have seasons compared to Europe or North America. Therefore, our “fashion” and way to dress tend to be more uniform. Polynesians are also practical and prefer to wear comfortable clothes with room to move. We are a people of the islands and the sea, and the way we dress is therefore influenced by our life-style. I also think that Polynesians don’t see the point in investing in more “stylish” clothes. Our priorities tend to be towards purchasing sports equipment and electronic gadgets. In Tahiti, there is a limited supply of imported, high fashion, haute couture clothing. Finally, very few local designers concentrate on men’s fashion. It’s a question of supply and demand.