The Internet at the Speed of Thought

Controversial New H&M Ad Proves ‘There Are No Rules in Fashion’

at4:46 pm | By

There Are No Rules in Fashion.

This new H&M ad is causing major waves, and not just in the fashion world.

Designed to promote a message for sustainable fashion–recycling clothes through H&M’s global garment collection initiative–the clothing retailer’s latest ad has also torn down some barriers so rapidly, you won’t know left from right after watching it– and that’s a good thing.

The ad, entitled “Close the Loop,” features a colorful ensemble of models from a wide array of backgrounds, shapes, and sizes. You can’t help but quickly become a part of the diverse world–very much our own–the commercial paints, coupled with rule-bending imperative statements that convince the listener to ignore the set rules of fashion and do their own thing.

“Wear a hat indoors,” encourages the ad’s narrator in his playful, grave voice. “Stand out. Blend in [….] Wear socks and sandals.” The commercial moves through monotonous and dreary scenes that are illuminated by its cast, largely dressed in bright or clashing colors, looking fashionable or positively rebellious: looking like themselves.

And yet the ad is garnering most attention for its controversial themes.

“Look chic. Look sheikh,” the ad says, as it features two traditionally dressed Muslim models. The girl, Mariah Idrissi, is a 23-year-old Londoner who H&M found via her Instagram. In the ad, she’s wearing her hijab, making her the first hijabi featured in an H&M ad.

As the world’s second largest global clothing retailer, H&M holds huge sway over what its patrons wear, envision, and even think, especially in the rapidly changing and easily accessible universe of fast-fashion. Many are citing Idrissi’s featured inclusion in the commercial as a positive attitude shift towards Muslim women and traditional garb, while others argue that in 2015, this should already be accepted and not making headlines.

The 23-year-old half-Pakistani, half-Moroccan was more than happy for a chance to model for H&M while still wearing clothes that her religious beliefs permit. To other aspiring Muslim models, she urges,

“I would say, make sure your intentions are correct in terms of why you’re doing it. Hijab isn’t a fashion. We can adjust it to fashion but we have to remember that the sole purpose of the hijab is to be modest. If you know you haven’t corrected your inside first, there’s no point in putting a hijab on for the fashion side of it. Because then you’re defeating the object.”

Yet aside from the religious content, H&M’s choice of models pushes even more boundaries. It features an old man dressed in drag (“Be a princess.”) It features a man with a prosthetic leg hopping around in a boxing ring (“Be new.”) It features men wearing pink, women wearing blue, men in skirts, women in slacks and suit jackets; you get the point.

In fact, the ad may seem a little oversaturated with unconventional fashion choices, which does make the inclusion of Idrissi and the male Muslim model somewhat contradictory (what rules are they breaking?), but nevertheless, the message of the ad is powerful and encompassing of many types of diversity.

At the end of the ad, the message rings true: “There are no rules in fashion but one: Recycle your clothes.” H&M’s site states that 95% of textiles that are thrown away each year could be repurposed. Personally, I love how the commercial ties the waste-conscious idea with a promotion for individual branding.

See the ad for yourself below, and don’t forget to SHARE this article to spread its great message.

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