Update, May 15, 2019:
The 2019 Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue is a noteworthy one, for many reasons—it brought Tyra Banks out of modeling retirement, and it features Halima Aden as the first model to appear in modest swimwear on its pages. Two brands designed custom suits for Aden to wear on the shoot. And one of them, Cynthia Rowley, is actually putting the burkini it made for the model into production.
Rowley created a two-piece burkini swimsuit featuring long sleeves, hood, and skirted bottom, in one of her signature colorblock prints. And now it’s up on her e-commerce for anyone to preorder.
That wasn’t originally the plan, though.
“The burkini initially started as a one-of-a-kind, custom piece for Halima, but after seeing such a positive response to the editorial, we didn’t have to think twice about putting it into production,” Rowley tells Glamour. “Thinking of fashion with a global mind-set is important to us as a brand, and we saw this as yet another opportunity to cater to our customers while standing behind the powerful and inspirational message the SI Swimsuit Issue brought to the surface. We design our wetsuits to inspire women to try new things and hope the introduction of our burkini will extend this mind-set to women around the world.”
Set to ship on August 1, the Prism Colorblock Burkini runs in sizes XS through L and retails for $295.
The response to the Cynthia Rowley burkini has been strong, says Rowley: “We’ve already received tons of positive responses. We have lots of followers DM’ing us asking what’s next…. Stay tuned!”
She’s only 21, but model Halima Aden has already been “the first” in many different ways: She was the first woman to wear a burkini in the Miss Minnesota USA pageant, the first hijab-wearing model to sign a contract with IMG, and now, the first model to appear in a burkini in Sports Illustrated‘s famous swimsuit issue.
On Monday, Sports Illustrated announced that Aden appears in its annual swim spread, twice. This marks the first time modest swimwear is represented in the issue.
In this shoot, Aden is photographed wearing a modest swimsuit by No Ka’Oi and a multicolor burkini by Cynthia Rowley. Aden’s pages were shot in Kenya, where she lived at a refugee camp before immigrating to the United States when she was 7.
Aden’s inclusion in the 2019 Swimsuit Issue is a major step for representation of modest fashion. “This feature is proving that a fully covered hijab wearing model can confidently stand alongside a beautiful woman in a revealing bikini and together they can celebrate one another, cheer each other on, and champion each other’s successes,” the model said in a statement. “Young Muslim women need to know that there is a modest swimsuit option available to them so they can join the swim team, participate in swim class at school, and go with their friends to the beach. Muslim girls should feel confident taking that step and doing so comfortably while wearing a burkini.”
“SI Swimsuit has been at the forefront of changing the narrative and conversation on social issues and preconceived notions. I’m hoping this specific feature will open doors up for my Somali community, Muslim community, refugee community, and any other community that can relate to being different,”Aden continued.
In recent editions, the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue has worked to make its pages more inclusive. It began diversifying the sizes of the models it featured in 2015, when Ashley Graham became the first curve model to appear in it. Since then, Hunter McGrady and Veronica Pome’e have modeled for the magazine.