clock menu more-arrow no yes

How one woman used fashion to reclaim her Muslim American identity

Startup co-founder, fashionista, skateboarder, NASA technical engineer, and mipster. Layla Shaikley doesn’t just embody the new term, which means “Muslim hipster” — she helped coin it.

“The mainstream view is so misrepresentative of so many young Muslim Americans,” she says. “They were generally represented in one way, instead of an amalgamation of many identities.”

To young Muslim Americans like her who grew up without role models in the media, Shaikley says, “Nothing represents you right now, which is why you have to take control of our narrative and make something that represents you.”

So Shaikley got some friends together and filmed a video. “Somewhere in America #MIPSTERZ” shows her skating alongside her friends in the streets of New York City. Dressed in their mipster best, they vogue for the camera, ride motorcycles, and lounge on fire escape stairwells. US Olympiad Ibtihaj Muhammad pulls off her fencing mask, revealing her hijab underneath. In the background, Jay Z’s “Somewhere in America” plays. Two years — and one viral rise in popularity — later, Shaikley is at the forefront of a mipster cultural movement she helped create.

In the latest installment of Vox’s The Secret Life of Muslims, Layla Shaikley opens up about the surprising new places #MIPSTERZ life has taken her.