Halima Aden has come a long way from since she was on the Miss USA stage: Ever since she became the first model to compete in the pageant while wearing a hijab, the 19-year-old has owned the runway (seriously, who books Yeezy, Max Mara, and Alberta Ferretti in her first Fashion Month?) and glossies alike (CR Fashion Book's not a bad place to start, after all). Less than a year after we first became acquainted with her, Aden has already landed her first campaign.
The Modist, the London- and Dubai-based luxury e-commerce site for modest consumers that launched earlier this spring, released a campaign for a capsule of designer caftans timed to Ramadan. And Aden is front and center in the imagery, flanked by fellow IMG-signed models Diana Silvers and Cayley King in the accompanying editorial. The collection consists of modest designs commissioned by contemporary labels like Mary Katrantzou, Adam Lippes, and Osman, among others.
It's an obvious pairing for the model and the brand: The Modist caters to a modest consumer who's conscious about trends, wants to shop luxury, and perhaps hadn't been catered to previously. Aden, meanwhile, has spoken publicly about her decision to wear a hijab. "I feel best when I am modestly dressed," Aden told Refinery29 earlier this year. "It's a choice I make and am proud of; for me, I don't think I have to show skin to be beautiful. There is a misconception that young Muslim women are oppressed. That simply isn't the case. I choose to dress modestly and choose to cover my hair with a hijab; not all Muslim women make that choice and that's okay. We are all different!"
Because of this (and also thanks to the fact that Aden didn't see any hijabi models on the runway or in magazines growing up), the 19-year-old has said she once thought she didn't have a place in the fashion industry. This group is still widely underrepresented in fashion imagery, but in recent years, we've seen major international brands like Nike, CoverGirl, and H&M hire modestly-attired women to star in campaigns. The overall landscape of diversity in advertising isn't necessarily reassuring, but there's certainly change afoot — at least as far as struggling labels are concerned. “Now that retailers are having tough times, however, they seem a bit more willing to think outside the box,” Paula Rosenblum, an analyst at Retail Systems Research, told Glossy in light of companies like Target expanding the range of "nude" products on offer, as well as the accompanying imagery. "I hope that’s the good that comes out of this difficult period in retailing: the recognition that not all women are white, five-foot-six and a size 2."