Fashion has taken a giant foot forward in bringing more diversity to its campaigns thanks to H&M's latest advert, which features a hijab-wearing model for the first time in the clothing giant's history.
Mariah Idrissi, a 23-year-old Londoner of Moroccan and Pakistani descent, is seen modelling wide-legged trousers, an oversized blazer and a matching printed scarf worn as a hijab in the 30-second video about recycling clothes.
“It always feels like women who wear hijab are ignored when it comes to fashion,” she tells Fusion. “Our style, in a way, hasn’t really mattered, so it’s amazing that a brand that is big has recognised the way we wear hijab.”
While she appears alongside many often marginalised demographics, including Sikh men and a woman with unshaven armpits in the campaign for H&M's sustainable clothing collection, Idrissi has been garnering the most attention from it from Muslim bloggers and the British media alike.
“I honestly have no idea why,” she continues. “It might be because hijab fashion has boomed in the last few years and to finally see a hijabi [a woman who wears a hijab] in mainstream fashion is a big achievement.”
When Idrissi was approached by a model scout to feature in a new campaign for the Swedish retailer, the 23-year-old was skeptical. “Are you sure they know I wear a hijab?” She's been wearing one since the age of 17 and has attended Islamic school for 10 years.
Speaking about the idea that the hijab is a symbol of oppression, she says, “Some people think it's great that women can be beautiful and wear a hijab, and others think they're forced to wear it. I'm quite thick-skinned though, so if people did say anything to me, I wouldn't notice it anyway.”
Idrissi highlighted the differences that are important when modelling as a Muslim woman. “[H&M] asked how much in terms of neck I could show...they were very respectful.”
“If the cameramen noticed something not quite right, they would call a woman over to fix me, it was sweet,” Idrissi says. “One of the watches was dangling in the wrong way, and rather than just twisting it on my wrist, the cameraman asked a woman to come over. It just showed that little bit of respect.”
A photo posted by Salon Marrakesh London (@mariahidrissi) on
Idrissi is no stranger to modelling having amassed over 7,000 followers on Instagram for demonstrating inventive ways of styling a hijab.
She's also launched a Moroccan-inspired beauty salon in London, Salon Marrakesh, which specialises in henna application, Moroccan massages and Halal manicures.
Follow her at @mariahidrissi.