The world’s first modest modelling agency celebrates a turning tide in the fashion and beauty industry.
“I feel like I’ve been waiting for this moment since I was a little girl — the moment when we are in.”
And indeed, it has been a long wait for stylist-turned-model-scout Nailah Lymus, who started pushing to see more diversity in the fashion industry when she launched her agency in 2012.
Named Underwraps, Lymus’ business is the first global agency for Muslim models, and represents a number of women who want to work in the industry without compromising their faith or values.
The New York-based agency has since supplied models for shoots in magazines including The New Yorker and Vogue, but Lymus says interest is currently at an all-time high.
“There is a lot of attention on Muslim women wearing hijabs [right now],” she told Refinery29 last month. “We’re seeing covered women in articles, magazines, campaigns, and ads. That’s had a huge, positive impact on the business.”
Indeed, one particular Muslim teen – Halima Aden – made headlines around the world earlier this year after becoming the first hijabi model to walk in several Fashion Week shows.
Global online retailer Net-A-Porter recently released its first Middle Eastern campaign featuring hijabi Kuwaiti blogger Ascia Al-Faraj, and last year H&M included a headscarf-wearing model in its advertising for the first time ever.
So yes, times are changing – something Lymus says Muslim women in the public eye should capitalise on.
“People are finally looking at us as beautiful women… I think it’s the responsibility of those who have social presence or time in the limelight to give more information and speak to the beauty of the religion,” she told Refinery29.
“We’re getting attention, and it’s important we try to dismiss or break down negative associations [around] Muslim women.”
Sneak peek to our night. Yes we did a quick trip to #philly for #pfw Philly Fashion Week with my team. Two UNDERWRAPS @underwrapsagency models @a.wildgoose , and @jaharrah_the_muslim_model . The amazing @rayyanakhdar beat our faces DOWN. We are here building connects and networking for a future project
The agency finds most of its models through social media, Lymus told The New Yorker last year, adding that the company rosters includes women of all shapes and sizes.
Nor is Underwraps the only agency signing hijabi models – the aforementioned Aden has been snapped up by IMG Models (which also represents Gisele Bündchen and Kate Moss).
We can’t wait to see what inclusive campaigns the fashion industry has in store in the near future…
Image: Nailah Lymus/Instagram