Mariah Idrissi calls out US fashion brand for hijab faux pas

Mariah Idrissi echoed the need for big brands to choose the right consultants when targeting shoppers. (Getty)
Updated 31 July 2019

Mariah Idrissi calls out US fashion brand for hijab faux pas

DUBAI: British-Moroccan model and influencer Mariah Idrissi and Haute Hijab founder Melanie Elturk took to Instagram Tuesday to share their concerns about the misrepresentation of Muslim women in the fashion industry.

It all kicked off when Elturk, who founded accessories e-tailer Haute Hijab in 2010, shared a promotional image used by US clothing store Banana Republic on its website.

The image features a hijab-wearing woman wearing a short-sleeved t-shirt and while Elturk “(loves) that they’re representing our community,” she added that she is “personally going to let them know that… there are guidelines to hijab outside of just covering hair (sic).”

“While I love that (the) hijab is becoming more mainstream and applaud @bananarepublic for their efforts in inclusivity… I have to pause at the way it’s portrayed,” she added.

“Brands will continue to invest in this space, but without proper checks in place, you have images like this. All it would have taken was a consultation with a Muslim brand or group to advise in order to do it right and respect our values,” she said.

Idrissi echoed the need for big brands to choose the right consultants when targeting shoppers.

“I’m out here on… all these platforms to explain the importance of getting the right people to consult for brands that want to tap into the ‘Muslim dollar’ and then this happens. Why are these errors happening still?” she said, before adding that fashion brands should employ the right people to consult on or style photoshoots to avoid such issues.  

Banana Republic launched its range of four hijabs on Tuesday.

Born and raised in London, Idrissi is of Moroccan-Pakistani descent and made headlines in 2015 when she became the first model to wear a hijab in a major international fashion campaign, starring in H&M’s “Close the Loop” adverts.

Since then, she has been at the forefront of the modest fashion movement, working with major retailers including MAC cosmetics and ASOS. She also featured in Rihanna’s Fenty Beauty campaign.

Referring to the feedback from her H&M campaign in that talk, she said, “It made me realize that I’m not only a hijabi model, I’ve also had this weight placed on me as a spokeswoman for hijab, for modesty, for fashion, for Islam… And, of course, I wouldn’t change it for the world, but it shows me that we still have a long way to go in changing people’s mentalities.”


Asir ‘could be hotspot for global tourism,’ say travel bloggers

Paragliding is among the attractions for thrillseekers in addition to bungee jumping, ropes course, slingshot and paintballing. (Photo courtesy: @AlsoudahSeason)
Updated 48 min 41 sec ago

Asir ‘could be hotspot for global tourism,’ say travel bloggers

  • Flower Men Festival a hit with visitors
  • Season ends Aug. 31

AL-SOUDAH: Asir province has the potential to become a hotspot for international tourism, according to bloggers who were impressed by the events and activities on offer at Al-Soudah Season. Joshua Van Alstine, who shot to fame in Saudi Arabia with his YouTube videos, said the public and private sector were taking advantage of the area’s potential and would develop it to accommodate demand.
 Van Alstine and his wife, who hails from the southwestern city of Tanomah in Asir, were driving to Abha from Riyadh and were invited to explore Al-Soudah Season.
“I loved it, I am so glad I accepted the invitation,” he told Arab News. “The best part of visiting Al-Soudah was trying out the bungee jumping.”
He also met his wife’s relatives. “We had dinner with them, they came to visit us in Al-Soudah and I gave them a tour and they really liked it. They could not believe this was happening in the region and I could not either. This is something so special, even as an American and we have had these events for years back home, this to me is something incredibly special.”
Al-Soudah has other attractions for thrillseekers in addition to bungee jumping. There is a ropes course, a slingshot, paintballing and paragliding.
Slightly more leisurely activities include trekking, cycling, enjoying performances of a local dance, and learning more about the distinctive traditions of the region’s Flower Men, a tribal group famous throughout the Kingdom for their floral crowns who live high up in the mountains.

I loved it, I am glad I accepted the invitation. The best part of visiting Al-Soudah was trying out the bungee jumping.

Joshua Van Alstine, YouTuber and blogger

“They did a great job,” said Van Alstine. “I am sure they had a lot of challenges moving up and down the mountain area into that valley. There are not that many places where you can walk into a town and see people singing, dancing and that is what happened when we visited. We walked into this old school village and people were laughing, dancing and the smell of food ... it was kind of like a barbeque.”
Travel blogger Paris Verra, who also visited Al-Soudah, said the region’s people were hospitable and welcoming. “The place is unreal, the beauty is just incredible,” she told Arab News. “Coming here I feel safe and there are many misconceptions of coming to Saudi Arabia. If people would open up there are so many great things about this country in general, especially in this region.”
Verra experienced four seasons in one hour. “I mean, it was like eating lunch in the clouds. Then there was rain, then there was thunder, and then clear blue sky ... and the Flower Men festival is on a whole different level.”
Al-Soudah Season runs until the end of the month and its programs are held across seven locations. The main area, called The Hub, is suitable for families. There is also the Kids Zone, where the Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdul Aziz Foundation is holding educational workshops at the House of Qatt.
It is one of 11 festivals being held across the Kingdom to promote the country as a global tourist destination.
It also seeks to contribute to achieving goals within the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 reform plan, which aims to improve the quality of life, raise living standards, and create career and investment opportunities in Saudi Arabia.