Beauty In Diversity: The Afghan-Sikh Model Championing Identity & Inclusivity

Beauty In Diversity: The Afghan-Sikh Model Championing Identity & Inclusivity

Standing tall at an impressive 6’1, Karanjee Singh Gaba is the turbaned supermodel representing a new wave of South Asian talent in the industry that seems to be expanding its horizons of beauty in diversity.

Apart from his stellar looks and captivating charm, the bearded hunk is symbolic of a cultural enigma that proves vital for south Asian representation on the runway. Hailed as the first Afghan-Sikh supermodel, Karanjee’s journey from seeking refuge to strutting on the runway is an inspiring one.

Karanjee Gaba

Growing up, Karanjee struggled with his identity that was two worlds apart; quite literally. Reeling from a post-war crisis, Gaba and his parents moved to London in 2007. Like many immigrant kids, he grew up juggling a diverse cultural identity with his Afghani-Sikh heritage and British upbringing.

Now a global face for Sikh representation in fashion, Gaba did not plan to step into the world of modelling. With an early inclination towards being behind the camera, he kicked off his pursuit of filmmaking at the age of 14 under the mentorship of filmmaker Pritpal Singh who’s accredited for making the film ‘Mission Afghanistan’.

From his days of filming the langar Seva at the Olympics to shooting a film on the refugee crisis in Belgium, Karanjee’s passion lies in creating impactful visuals that represent issues and underrepresented communities in the mainstream. Recognized as an independent film-maker, his films include stellar cinematic pieces like ‘Hindko’ and ‘Journey to Pakistan’.

Taking his passion for rightful representation further, the multifaceted creative turned to modelling as a means to represent Sikh identity in the world of fashion. An active advocate against the atrocities faced by the Sikh community in Afghanistan, Gaba’s endeavor is all about raising awareness about complex POC identities and the importance of creating an inclusive space that is mindful of these diverse identities.

Presently, Gaba has walked the ramp for fashion powerhouses like Louis Vuitton and has been featured by Vogue, GQ, Milk Magazine, Man About Town, Schön.

While the industry seems to be swaying with winds of change, the brown model is vocal about the struggles as well. From being asked to shave his beard to tokenistic fetishization, the industry comes with its own set of challenges. Despite all of this, the model stands tall on his path towards carving a niche for beauty that goes beyond shades, faith, and more.

View his work here.

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