In the days of old, Muslim consumers who considered themselves to be fashion forward by nature did not always have the chance to enjoy the proper level of representation. While outdated stereotypes may have been to blame for these realities, we are now living in a far more accepting world than we ever have before.
Just take a look at some of the photos from New York’s famous Fashion Week. An event that used to be the exclusive domain for beauty ideals that are Western centric has become much more inclusive. Seeing the hijab on the runway for an event of this magnitude is proof positive that the fashion industry has come a long way as far as its embrace of Muslim culture is concerned.
Muslim models are now receiving the sort of opportunities that they have always deserved. Vogue and Nike have recently featured Muslim models prominently and when the biggest names in fashion are willing to use Muslim models for shoots that will have a high level of visibility, it sends the right message to everyone else.
Living in a more tolerant climate means that a lot of the doors that once stood between Muslim models and their biggest goals are being kicked down for good. For example, models of a certain complexion were once discouraged from pursuing a career in this field. It was believed that models needed to have a specific pigmentation in order to be successful.
There are a bevy of dark skinned beauties who are making a name for themselves right now and they are paving the way for Muslim models to receive the embrace that they have always deserved. KhoudiaDiop is at the forefront of this movement and she has been dubbed as the “Melanin Goddess” as a result of her efforts.
Her success is even more astounding when you stop to consider the fact that naysayers told her that she should attempt to bleach her skin when she was growing up. Unfortunately, there are certain countries where skin bleaching is an acceptable part of the culture and her native Senegal is one of them.
Thankfully, Diop was not willing to listen to these haters. Her cousins may have pushed her to bleach her skin but her sister was quick to tell her that she should do no such thing. She is not the only dark skinned model making a name for herself. Nikki Perkins has also risen to stardom in recent years and has amassed nearly 1 million followers on Instagram.
The fashion industry has always been based on the art of self expression. While this industry may have existed in a manner that was perpendicular to popular culture at large in the past, we are well past the stage where politics and personal beliefs are not expected to play a role in people’s decision making process.
After an election cycle that brought a number of horrifying viewpoints to the forefront, more and more members of the fashion industry have felt compelled to embrace Muslim models as a form of rebuttal. No longer can people be told to “stick to fashion!” or to “stop making things so political”.
The current political climate has forced the fashion industry to challenge the status quo and these types of shakeups are a positive for Muslim models. The runway is now being used as a pulpit of sorts and designers are utilising this opportunity to let the Make America Great Again crowd know exactly where they stand on these matters.
Mara Hoffman is one prominent designer who decided to do just that. At New York’s Fashion Week, she asked Muslim-American activist Linda Sarsour to open her show. Meanwhile, Yeezy Season 5 enlisted Halima Aden, a Somalian-American model, for their show. In fact, this trip down the runway actually served as her official debut.
The hijab is also becoming more popular in the fashion industry because of its ability to symbolize the resistance that is currently taking place. The immigration policies that have been enacted by this administration are forcing people to take the sort of stands that they never thought imaginable.
Some may believe that this is only a passing fad and that the fashion industry’s current embrace of Muslim culture will recede once a more tolerant administration has been put into place. However, those who are more firmly entrenched are of the belief that these changes were going to take place one way or another. The industry has already been headed in a more tolerant direction in recent years as is.
There is no denying the fact that the policies of this administration have certainly served as a means of expediting the process, though. Maria Alia echoes this belief and as the face of the Uniqlo company’s recent spring campaign, this Muslim influencer is certainly qualified to speak on this topic. Even brands like Dolce and Gabbana and DKNY have been openly embracing models of Muslim descent.
With all of the biggest names in the fashion industry rallying around Muslim models, these women are not going anywhere anytime soon. Dark skinned women and women who do not believe that a hijab precludes them from looking their best now have the representation that they so richly deserve. Since Muslim buyers now account for a whopping $230 billion in yearly purchasing power, these are figures that the fashion industry would certainly be foolish to ignore in the years to come.