HomeCultureModel Halima Aden wants to revolutionize Muslim fashion

Model Halima Aden wants to revolutionize Muslim fashion

Halima Aden, the first model to wear a hijab, to pose in a burkini, and to sign with a leading modeling agency, has been named global ambassador for Modenisa, the modest Istanbul-based fashion giant, with whom she has worked. signed an exclusive two-year contract.

For the Somali-American born in a refugee camp in Kenya, it was about preserving her self-esteem and well-being in a fast-paced and cowardly industry that increasingly clashed with her Muslim values.

Last year, Halima Aden tore up the juicy contracts that bound her to the big fashion houses. She now poses in a hijab and a burkini and is betting on the rise of “modest fashion” for Muslim women.

For this American model of Somali origin, born in a refugee camp in Kenya, it is a question of self-esteem in an industry that is moving fast and increasingly clashing with its values.

“Ever since I was a little girl this quote -” don’t change yourself, change the game “- got me through so much in life” , she told AFP in an interview in Istanbul.

“When I made the decision to quit everything, that’s exactly what I did,” she continues. “And I am very, very proud of it.”

The decision last November of the young woman, who will celebrate her 24th birthday on Sunday, shook the world of fashion and influencers who hailed this pioneering daring.

Halima Aden first appeared in a hijab and burkini (a body-covering swimsuit, which is still confusing in Europe) in 2016 during a beauty pageant in Minnesota.

Again in 2019, she posed for the annual Sports Illustrated in this type of jersey when she was already famous.

But on a personal level, she also felt locked in a straitjacket, sometimes in the literal sense of the word.

“I have always been given a cubicle, a private place to change, but most of the time I was the only one with a little privacy”.

“I saw my young comrades undressing in public, in front of media figures, cooks, designers and assistants,” she recalls. “It was very shocking”.

“I could not evolve in an industry where there is no minimal respect for the human being. “

Halima Aden appeared released when she announced her decision to drop photoshoots and catwalks last year.

“I had never felt so relieved. Keeping it all to myself was like real poison! », She had proclaimed on Instagram.

She had felt that her traditions, radically different from those of most other models, were caricatured and gagged by certain brands. American Eagle had replaced his scarf with a pair of jeans placed on his head in 2017.

“But… that’s not my style!” She protested on Instagram at the time. “I had come to a point where I couldn’t even recognize my hijab as I traditionally wore it.”

Surrounded by Middle Eastern fashionistas in Istanbul, Halima Aden seemed much more at ease this week, during an event hosted by Turkish brand Modanisa, her new home.

She will design exclusive collections for the online brand, one of the big names in “modest fashion” in Turkey.

This industry was valued worldwide at $ 277 billion in 2019. This is already more than a tenth of the $ 2.2 billion of the global fashion industry, with still a large room for growth, according to DinarStandard, firm consultancy specializing in emerging Muslim markets.

In recent years, Moscow, Riyadh and London have also organized parades of “modest fashion”.

In addition to lending her face and name to the brand, Aden, who has featured on the covers of international editions of Elle, Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar magazines, will also design two collections for the retailer.

In November 2020, Aden said she would only accept modeling jobs that would allow her to keep her hijab visible.

In June, she spoke to Tommy Hilfiger for a BBC interview about her experiences in the industry that led her to make the decision, such as having to go through men’s locker rooms.

The trend is particularly marked in Iran, Saudi Arabia and Turkey, where Halima Aden is delighted with the great diversity observed in the streets.

“What I like most about Turkey, especially in Istanbul: we see women who do not wear the hijab, right next to women who wear it,” she insists.

“In Istanbul you can feel the taste of the world”.

Modest fashion has taken off over the past decade, in part thanks to the careers of models like her.

Smiling, speaking in a soft voice, she seems confident in the ability of this industry to withstand crises like that of the coronavirus and the versatility of trends.

“Modest fashion is taking off, it’s one of the trends that has lasted for hundreds of years and it will continue to exist for another hundred years,” she said.

Islam and fashion “are 100% compatible because there is nothing in our religion that prohibits being in fashion,” she notes.

Luxury brands such as DKNY and Dolce & Gabbana have already infiltrated the niche.

But Halima Aden sees it as a matter of “symbols”: “the fashion industry wants our money, but does not support us in the problems we are facing.”

“For me,” she warns, “fashion must do more: you represent your Muslim clients, it is important to speak up when they are faced with injustices. “

Modanisa, of which she is now an ambassador, sells modest fashion online and ships orders to more than 140 countries, including the EU.

It’s important to remember that the Islamic fashion industry is estimated to be worth $ 88 billion by 2025, according to the study by Grand View Research. Malaysia, Turkey and Indonesia, where the industry is extremely lucrative, contribute significantly to major countries outside the Western fashion industry.




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