Halima Aden doesn’t think the fashion industry would have embraced her five years ago.
The 22-year-old Somali-born model made history when she signed to IMG Models in 2017 and insisted in her contract that she is allowed to wear a hijab on the catwalk, something she made a non-negotiable part of her deal.
Halima never thought she would land her big break due to the lack of diversity in the industry.
She told Harper’s Bazaar: “I was living in Minnesota and was going to college. But I followed my heart, and when that call came from IMG Models, I went with my gut feeling and came on board.
“Before then, if you had asked me in 2015 or 2016 if I could have been a model, I would have told you no, that’s impossible.”
Halima doubted her looks and talent as she couldn’t spot another Somalian model on the runway.
She explained: “When you don’t see something, it’s hard to visualise it. A career like that, for someone like me, didn’t exist.”
Now, she has been fully embraced into the fashion world after the industry decided to revamp their famous faces.
She added: “It was really positive. A lot of people, especially in fashion, were ready for a new change, a new face. I never saw that kind of representation, a hijab-wearing model, before I came along. And to see all the changes in the short three years that I have been in the industry, like seeing a hijab-wearing model, has been amazing.
“This year, especially, I feel like every agency has a hijab-wearing model. We’re seeing so much representation, and it’s growing. It has surpassed me. It’s been quite the journey these last three years, but I couldn’t have done it if I didn’t have people like Carine [Roitfeld] believing in me and my agent. I think the industry had changed in order for me to come along and find success.”