Hijab-Wearing Shahira Yusuf Gets Modelling Contract


Storm management has just signed 20-year-old Shahira Yusuf, making her one of the first hijab-wearing models to grace Britain’s runway. A British born woman with a Somali background, Yusuf represents the change the fashion industry needed.

Announcing her entrance into the fashion world, the young model made headlines last year tweeting, "I ain't no Kendall Jenner but I'm a Black Muslim girl from east London that's about to finesse the modelling industry."

Yusuf was initially spotted by a scout at the young age of 17 but decided to defer, allowing herself time to grow up before entering the industry. “You've got to be mature otherwise an industry like this can swallow you up.”

Aware of the responsibility and influence her contract will bring, Yusuf understands the weight of representing Muslim women in a positive light. She has affirmed that she has set clear boundaries. She states, "I don't want to be considered the token girl.”

Yusuf hopes to pave the way for models of diverse religions and ethnic backgrounds. She asserts that eventually this diversity needs to become the norm within the fashion industry just as it has in the outside world.

She takes pride in knowing that her story could serve as inspiration to young Muslim girls to strive past what they thought was possible.

Her agent Billy Mehmet is also aware of the young model’s potential stating, “Shahira will open the doors to a lot of other girls who wear the hijab to be able to think they can be a model and there is no reason why they can't be.”

Mehmet also understands how the industry is changing. “Our clients want girls who are more than just models, whether it's a girl who is an activist or an artist.”

The industry is also adapting to meet the increasing demand for fashion suitable to different religious and cultural backgrounds. The market for designer hijabs and head scarves is developing at a rapid pace and Islamic fashion is predicted to be worth near $368 billion by 2021.

The change was spearheaded by Nike earlier this year when the iconic athletic brand announced the release of its first ever sports hijab. The hijab was designed in partnership with Zahra Lari, the first figure skater to compete wearing the traditional garment. The launch represented a wider trend towards the popularization of Islamic fashion in the mainstream.

The movement towards embracing the hijab symbolizes an important change in the trajectory of fashion. The industry is moving towards inclusivity and championing diversity- a change that deserves to be celebrated.

Cameron de Matteis