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.”