Impact Style’s Joanna Grimwood has been delving into lives of the individuals who have made large strides within the fashion industry despite facing adversity. This is their story – one by one. In focus this week is model Mariah Idrissi.

“Are you sure they know I wear a hijab?” was the first skepticism that Mariah Idrissi had after being approached by a model scout, who discovered the 23-year old through her Instagram account. Idrissi has since become an influential figure within the Islamic community for being one of few Muslim models to feature in a campaign for a mainstream international retailer.

“Are you sure they know I wear a hijab?”

A Londoner of Pakistani and Moroccan decent – Idrissi made her debut into a promising career of modelling by featuring in H&M’s ‘Close the Loop’ campaign alongside a diverse collection of other individuals. Although the main aim of the campaign is to encourage members of the global population to practice in eco-friendly and sustainable fashion, the appearance of Sikh, transgender and amputee models inadvertently attempts to break the stringent mold that has been existent in the fashion industry for decades. The tag-line for the campaign – “There are no rules in fashion but one: Recycle your clothes.” – serves to imply this further.

Idrissi’ spoke effortlessly, and slightly humorously, about her endeavors into the world of fashion at a TEDx Teen event – ‘Changing the Face of Fashion’. In her speech, Idrissi speaks of the challenges that she has encountered throughout her career, including being asked in castings for her opinions on ISIS, as well as, the hijab being seen as a symbol of Muslim women’s oppression. Idrissi goes on to emphasize that the progress society and the fashion industry have made is relatively minuscule, especially relative to how much more could be done.

“It has become the norm for the Islamic religion to be hugely under-represented within the fashion industry”

Idrissi’ has been very outspoken about her aims to inspire young Muslim women to curate their interest in the fashion industry, due to its overwhelming influence on society and its ability to promote self-expression. In London, she currently operates a Moroccan inspired beauty salon – Salon Marrakesh – that specializes in henna design, Moroccan massages and Halal nail polish. Halal nail polish is designed for Islamic women who oppose wearing most nail products during prayer as water ablutions performed beforehand require that the water touches all of the skin. The aim of the salon and the products used is to encourage women of the Islamic faith not to see the religion as restricting, as it is often made out in westernised cultures, but to see it as a beautiful and empowering faith that allows its followers to be themselves.

Last night – photography by @nylahsworld_ 😂😘

A post shared by Mariah Idrissi 🇬🇧 (@mariahidrissi) on


At a time when attitudes towards Islam have become tense, the result of associations being made between the jihadist group ISIS and the Islamic religion as whole, Idrissi is making extensive progress at altering some of the generalizations that have been made in recent years. Despite being responsible for $266 billion in clothing sales and making up almost a quarter of the world’s population, it has become the norm for the Islamic religion to be hugely under-represented within the fashion industry; the reason behind Idrissi’s reaction to the model scout being nothing out of the ordinary.

Idrissi has addressed a pressing and current issue that is evident around the world. However, she believes that her recent ability to enter the fashion industry as a Muslim model indicates that the world of fashion is heading in the right direction. Without a doubt, I agree with her on this one. I just hope the world outside of fashion follows suit.

Head here to watch Idrissi’s TEDxTEEN talk on Changing the Face of Fashion

Joanna Grimwood

Image Credits: Mariah Idrissi via Instagram, H&M via youtube

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