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Kenyan-Somali supermodel Halima Aden to make fashion comeback

By Sylvania Ambani September 20th, 2022 2 min read

Kenyan-Somali supermodel Halima Aden could be making a fashion comeback soon. Speaking to online magazine Business of Fashion, Aden said this time around it will not be modelling.

She is however looking to launch different projects and is currently learning more about the business side of the industry.

Ms Aden, 19, grew up in Kakuma, one of the biggest refugee camps in the world, before relocating to the United States with her mother when she was only seven.

She made her entry into the modelling world in 2016, when she became the first woman to wear a hijab in the Miss Minnesota USA Pageant and ended up a semi-finalist.

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Although she did not win, she caught the attention of IMG models, which handed her a contract.

The pageant, Ms Aden said, was also a small culture shock as such gigs are not associated with Somalis.

In 2017, she again featured on the runway during the New York Fashion Week Fall as a model in Kanye West’s Yeezy season 5 show.

“I just remember going like ooh, is this a joke, is this a prank, like what is just happening. But it was incredible because that is not something that comes by everyday especially for me. I wear a hijab and that is something that has never happened before. So for me it was a big deal,” Aden explained during a past interview with the Nation.

A woman of many firsts, Aden also became the first model to grace the cover of Sports Illustrated magazine wearing burkini in 2019.

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“Growing up in the States, I never really felt represented, because I never could flip through a magazine and see a girl who was wearing a hijab. I keep thinking [back] to six-year-old me who, in this same country, was in a refugee camp. So, to grow up to live the American dream [and] to come back to Kenya and shoot for SI in the most beautiful parts of Kenya — I don’t think that’s a story that anybody could make up,” she told Sports Illustrated.

In April, Aden told the US media that she used to work in a hospital toilet before she began modelling.

Aden’s career on the runway however, came to an abrupt end in 2020 after announcing that she was quitting.

In an interview with designer Tommy Hilfiger, Aden said towards the end of her modelling career she felt that she was losing control of her identity. Her main concern was that her hijab was slowly shrinking from existence.

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