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Chat with Halima Aden, First International Hijabi Model

In an interview with Goltune, Halima Aden, the first hijab-wearing supermodel talks about her experience walking for Modanisa London Fashion Week, about how it’s different from walking for mainstream fashion, her inspirations and the future of modest fashion.

Aden, 19, is a Somali-American, who was born in a Kenyan refugee camp, and moved to the US at age six. Last year, she made headlines when she became the first Miss Minnesota contestant ever, to wear a hijab all the way through the competition. Soon after, she signed a contract with IMG model agency and went on the walk the runway in Milan and New York (for Kanye West’s Yeezy show), never talking off the hidjab.

Aden came to London for only two days, to take part in the opening catwalk of Modanisa London Fashion Week. In the video interview she shares her excitement about being a part of this event: “For such a long time I wasn’t seeing any Muslim women in fashion,” Aden says, “and today everyone [is Muslim] – from the guests to the beautiful models and designers. It was such a huge moment for me.” She talks about her role models, about her parents’ reaction to her sudden fame, and concludes that modest fashion’s next step is to have a dedicated show in the US.

Goltune: Hi, I’m Tal from, and I’m here with Halima Aden at the Modanisa fashion show. I’m so happy to have you here.

Halima Aden: Oh, Thank you.

G: It’s really hard to grab you from all of the people, you’re getting a lot of attention. How does it feel, to get all that attention?

HA: It’s so good. I feel so much love. I’m just really happy because for such a long time I wasn’t seeing Muslim women in fashion, and today everyone. You know, I got to see everyone, from the guests to the beautiful models to the designers. You know it just, it was just a huge moment for me.

G: Yeah, you just came from Milan and New York, right?

HA: Yeah.

G: How is this different from that experience? The modest fashion show?

HA: Yeah, I think, even though I was wearing modest outfits for those shows, what’s different here is the guests. It’s mostly, almost all Muslim women and it’s kinda how they differentiate. But again, I’m just so honored and so blessed to be here.

G: What did your parents think what you got all this attention, and when you became a supermodel?

HA: Oh, they were good and really supportive. My mom was like “as long as you can be yourself and dress modest, than it’s okay”. But obviously, like every parent she wants me to be the way she couldn’t. And I’m still really young and she doesn’t want me to be pressured, and you know, so far, none of that has happened, so I think we’re really good.

G: You probably know that you’re a role model for young Muslim women.

HA: Oh, thank you.

G: Do you have a role model that pushed you to do this? To decide to do this?

HA: I have a ton of role models. Just, Iman, she’s a Somali supermodel. Also, women like Oprah, even though she’s not a model, I feel like she’s a wonderful person and her story resonates with me because she had a rough childhood and she still managed to be Oprah Winfrey. If she’s able to, I think the rest of us are able to.

G: You became the first woman, the first supermodel to wear a hijab, which is groundbreaking. Do you see anything else that needs to happen in fashion? Now that you did that, what else should we do in fashion?

HA: I think that we’re doing a great job. You know, we’re moving in the right direction. And obviously, with more events like today, like London Muslim Modest Fashion Week – if we can take that and make it even bigger, and bring it to America, bring it to Dubai, you know. I think that will be really good.

G: And what is next for you, personally?

HA: Me? I wanna really work with the UN organization or UNICEF. So that is my goal and I hope – I’m working on it.

G: That’s a really nice goal. That’s continuing modelling with that?

HA: Yeah. I think you’re able to multitask. I know I like juggling things, so.

Well, it’s great to see you here today.