Right now, more than ever, “girl power” is a phrase that’s so relevant, as more and more women continue to break societal stereotypes and script their own success stories. Proving that passion, dedication, and determination are the key ingredients to achieving personal fulfilment is Shalma Ainaa, the Astro TV host and stylish co-founder of Shals, a homegrown ready-to-wear clothing label.
“I am all about empowering women,” says the 26-year-old. It’s not surprising then that her hero and a fashion designer whom she idolises greatly is Victoria Beckham, who “has a keen eye for finding that soft balance between modern minimalism and chic wearability in her designs—something I feel what women want when it comes to clothes.”
From the modern minimalist clothing, uber-chic sandals, and irresistible bucket bags at the Shals boutique in Shah Alam, one gets a sense of Shalma’s stylish flair, accurately reflected in the designs of the brand she started with her sister Shalmanisa in 2011. “We identified a gap and potential for growth in the Malaysian ready-to-wear market, so we mustered our passion for clothes and entrepreneurship and just went for it,” Shalma explains.
Having had her fair share of fashion dos and don’ts (haven’t we all?), Shalma admits that her style has evolved throughout the years. According to Shalma, those days of femme fatale dresses and sky-high heels are long gone, and have been taken over by easy-Scandi-meets-athleisure looks. “Nowadays, I prioritise comfort over anything. If I were to describe my aesthetic, it would be ‘minimal, effortless, with a touch of luxe’,” she details. “Dressing up for a TV hosting gig can be tricky, as it translates differently on screen, but based on experience, it gets easier; I know what looks flattering on me before I go on-air.”
Shalma’s matching sky-blue striped shirt-and-skirt combo from Shals, paired with a ’50s-inspired pointy white kitten heels, is breezy comfort done right. Between shots, she divulges that she developed an interest in fashion from a very young age: “Growing up, I have always loved experimenting with clothes,” she says. “I made a point to dress up for even the smallest of occasions, even for extra classes after school!” This fervour for fashion mirrors that of Beyoncé, who is on top of the extensive list of style icons Shalma looks up to. “Nobody does style quite like Queen Bey,” she muses. “Whether she is dressed in boho-chic pieces or haute couture stylings, she definitely knows how to slay.”
Another quintessential Shalma aesthetic includes throwing a touch of androgyny into the mix. For her second look, she opts for a creamy long-sleeved top from & Other Stories, loungy wide-legged pants from Grâce à Bibi, complete with an XXL burnt orange cover-up and chic strapped sandals from Shals. Despite keeping an open mind when it comes to trends, Shalma reveals that she will not be caught dead “sporting the goth-punk look. I don’t think it suits my character or personality and it’s a bit too dark for my liking.”
Fresh from a trip to London, Shalma also enthusiastically reveals some of her favourite retail therapy spots. “I love Dover Street Market for its variety of rare-fashion pieces. Something about that store just exudes postmodernist vibes,” she says. “You must also visit the beauty department at Liberty London. I could spend hours exploring the range of make-up, organic skincare, and fragrances you can’t find here
When she’s not occupied at the Shals store with plans to expand the label locally and internationally, Shalma is busy prepping for gigs such as hosting the new entertainment news show Pop! Express for NTV7. From her own business to a flourishing career, this is one #GirlBoss on the rise.
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