How this hijab-wearing model is breaking stereotypes and changing the industry

  • Mariah Idrissi was the first-ever model to wear a hijab in an international campaign.
  • She was scouted for H&M’s “Close The Look” campaign in 2015.
  • Since then, she has become a symbol of modest fashion.
  • She’s also worked with Rihanna’s Fenty Beauty brand.
  • Visit INSIDER’s homepage for more stories.

Mariah Idrissi made history as the first-ever model to wear a hijab in an international campaign when she appeared in H&M “Close The Loop” campaign in 2015.

“Initially, shooting it, I didn’t think anything of it.,” she told INSIDER. “I just thought I was like an extra in a campaign, the same way you’d be like an extra in a movie, but it was only until the campaign came out. One, it was a really good message. It was about promoting recycling your clothes. So that meant a lot to me as well as the fact that obviously I didn’t realise that using someone in a hijab had not been done before.”

Since then, she has become a symbol of modest fashion and a role model for other anspiring models. She’s also worked with Rihanna’s Fenty Beauty brand.

“We already had this space, like a modest fashion industry of our own, but the mainstream had never recognised it as anything. They just saw it maybe as a cultural thing, and it hadn’t really been incorporated with mainstream fashion houses. And that was one aspect of it, the fact that we have, there’s a demand for more modest clothing, but then also the aspect of representation was also important. So one side is the actual material, the clothing that we need, and then the second side was we need people that we can relate to as well so that we know, “Oh, wow, they’re actually targeting people like us.””

“There’s definitely been barriers, more with, I’d say, just people understanding how to market us because initially it was like, great when there’s a Ramadan campaign again or when Eid’s coming up. And it’s like, we don’t wear hijab on holidays or specific times of the year. We wear hijab all year round. That’s where one of my challenges has been, trying to get people to understand that they should work with Muslim women or women of all different backgrounds, cultures, any time of the year. It shouldn’t be just a tokenistic thing where it’s for a specific moment.”

“It’s not just gonna affect the fashion industry, but it will change the mentality of people that are not interested in fashion because advertising is all around us. If you see a Muslim woman on a billboard and you recognise the brand, you’re then gonna be like, “Oh, wow.” And it’s opened so many careers for so many more women now. That’s not a coincidence again because a lot of them wanted to be models. They actually had that career in mind, but it’s all post that time. And then same with even fashion houses, there were already some collaborations going on with DKNY, and Uniqlo with Hana Tajima. But I think in terms of it, just really the bubble bursting, the last couple of years, we’ve seen so much growth. It’s really good.”

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