Halima Aden is one of the many supermodels who certainly haven't gone dark during the coronavirus pandemic. She works hard from home after getting her new promotion Sport Illustrated Swimsuit Edition Feature, launched a range of hijabs, face mask sets, and turbans, and was modeled in Carine Roitfeld's virtual runway show that shed some light on the industry in troubled times.
Here the 23-year-old model, activist and influencer reflects on the last few months with POPSUGAR and highlights all the silver linings that she can see. Halima has learned how to hone her tech skills (see: flawless selfie above) and while realizing how far the fashion industry has come, she has some ideas on how we can ensure diverse representation going forward.
POPSUGAR: What do you currently love about fashion?
Halima Aden: What excites me the most is that brands spread bigger messages. They use their status and their enormous reach to do good and give something back. It's amazing to see. I've always wanted to use my voice to combine fashion and activism, and I think that's something the entire fashion industry is focused on right now. I know a lot of brands have been doing this privately for years, but now they are realizing that their consumers want to hear these big social concerns that they support and the impact they make.
PS: What does it mean to have style in 2020?
HA: It's like, "One man's trash is another's treasure." I think fashion is about making it your own. I sometimes look at what people in the industry are wearing and wonder, "Wow, so this is fashion?" But that's the beauty of it. Take risks and don't be afraid to try something that hasn't been done before. This has always been my message in life and I think it will apply to fashion in 2020. At the end of the day, you do!
PS: How was your experience in the industry over the last few months?
HA: It was a real challenge, but still rewarding. Virtual work gave me great appreciation for everyone on the set. It takes a village, and every job on the set requires such skills and talent. Since I have to be my own makeup artist, stylist, photographer, director, producer, and lighting technician, the list goes on. . . It is not an easy task. Cant wait to play again and hug everyone who brings every shoot to life, but I have to say I was also very happy and impressed with the result of the work I did from home. Learning more about technology was something I had to do for work, not voluntarily, but I can take that with me into the future.
"Brands don't check boxes, they see value in using models for campaigns that their customers can identify with."
PS: What does it mean to be a model in 2020 and beyond?
HA: Being a model in 2020 is so encouraging as we see such diversity. We see the Maye Musks, Ashley Grahams, and Winnie Harlows – such beautiful and powerful women, all of whom struggle against age-old stereotypes of what beauty looks like. We see that this is not a trend. . . These women are here to stay. One thing I'm particularly proud of is that three and a half years ago there wasn't a high fashion model who wore the hijab. Now it's not uncommon to see a hijabi on the runway or on the covers of magazines. I may have been the first, but certainly not the last, and that shows that this path we're on, highlighting inclusivity and acceptance, is here in the long run. I strongly believe brands don't tick a box. Rather, they see value in using models for campaigns that their customers can relate to.
PS: What are the craziest beauty or fashion looks that you had to wear at home during the pandemic?
HA: I went to Carine Roitfelds CR fashion book virtual runway show that showed such incredible talent. It was an absolute blast and such an honor, but I'll say my girl Mei (Kawajiri) and her request for the models' nail polish were over the top. She made us all write our names in black liquid eyeliner on just one particular fingernail. I said, "Mei, how on earth do you expect me to do this?" Fortunately, my roommate was able to help me. If you haven't seen my nails they are so short and tiny. It's a miracle "Halima" fits over my nail.
PS: What is your top tip for recording from home?
HA: Lighting, lighting, lighting! I got a ring light that has become my best friend for home photography during this time.
PS: Do you have a favorite fashion purchase that you made at home?
HA: I have a puppy dog. That counts, doesn't it? She is my fashion accessory. Her name is Koko and she weighs two and a half pounds each. I'm obsessed but it was so hard I am not sleeping and she is demanding my attention around the clock. I don't know how my friends do it! She has a fabulous wardrobe as I love to dress her up.
PS: have you worked on any DIY projects?
HA: I bought a set of garden furniture and a grill. I was at home in Minnesota and we Minnesotans live to spend time outside in the summer because we have severe winters. I could spend a lot of time on my terrace, enjoying my tea in the morning and enjoying the summer nights. I made my outside area really comfy and cute.
Image source: Courtesy of Halima Aden