Alumna Summer Albarcha: Instagram icon for modest fashion


Courtesy of Summer Albarcha

Posing for a picture by the Steinberg Ice Rink in partnership with Uber, alumna Summer Albarcha shares the image on her blog. Albarcha posts regularly on the site, as well as on her Instagram and YouTube channel. “Use social media as your portfolio in anything you do,” Albarcha said. “[Your social media] is out there for companies to see when applying to jobs, so it’s best to make it a reflection of yourself or the traits you’re trying to portray. For example, if you’re applying to a fashion job, you might want to have a fashionable Instagram to show your taste and styling work.”

Creating lookbooks, traveling to fashion weeks worldwide, replying to emails, editing content or just updating her site, alumna Summer Albarcha, class of 2014, has built a name for herself in the fashion world. With more than 512,000 followers on Instagram—a continuously growing number—Albarcha has grown as a public figure on social media for modest fashion. She got her start to this career in 2012 after creating a personal Instagram page.

“I saw it as an outlet to share ideas for modest dressers in St. Louis. It then caught international attention unintentionally. It made me feel that my platform was making an impact on many girls,” Albarcha said.

As a hijabi Muslim, Albarcha’s sense of fashion differs from mainstream Western fashion.

“My mom is my inspiration for loving fashion as she was always so stylish while also wearing hijab as I was growing up,” Albarcha said. “It’s definitely more difficult being of a minority background in the industry, but living in New York City, it’s definitely moving towards more diversity and inclusion.”

Primarily, Albarcha works online, but her job has many parts.

“I spend more time on my laptop replying to emails, editing content, updating my site, creating lookbooks for inspiration [or] sending pitches over being on camera,” Albarcha said. “My job entails creating content for my social media platforms, whether sponsored by brands or solely from my own styling. I’m going to be in a campaign in billboard in New York City end of May, so that’s exciting.”

Albarcha describes herself as a stylist and blogger because her social media platforms are geared entirely towards modest fashion.

“I describe my style [by saying] ‘I love layering’ because it is about ways to layer different clothing items to achieve a modest, street style look,” Albarcha said. “I don’t like the term influencer because it has a negative connotation to it, as in influencing people towards something harmful.”

Travel is also a constant part of Albarcha’s life. On average, she travels one to three times per month for different projects.

“Now that I live in New York City, [I do not travel] as much as before,” Albarcha said. “It’s more traveling during fashion week times which is September or October and February or March. It feels great to travel as part of my job, [and] I balance it by making my work about the trip, shifting the story or content towards wherever I am.”

Besides all of the traveling and photoshoots, Albarcha does find difficulties with her constantly evolving field.

“The hardest part is keeping up with the constantly changing market, audiences, attitudes, et cetera,” Albarcha said. “What worked for you in 2015 is not the case anymore. I’m always looking for new ways to diversify my platforms and styles [through] YouTube, my website, Instagram, going to in-person events or styling. [Keeping up with the trends] can get difficult at times, but by staying true to your authentic style, you don’t always have to be with the top trends: you can make your own.”

What began as an Instagram page transformed into a blog and YouTube channel as well. However, Albarcha plans on working towards even more media platforms in the future.

“I have plenty of bigger goals that would all revolve around the idea of modest fashion,” Albarcha said. “I’d love to be more involved in traditional media like television styling, and I’m also always interested in the design aspect.”

Albarcha’s unique, multifaceted career is still growing. Looking at her work in its entirety, she reflects on her favorite part.

“My favorite part is that social media has broken down traditional barriers and hierarchies to be a part of the fashion world,” Albarcha said. “I’ve been able to attend fashion week worldwide which previously was only for editors and celebrities. [It is] definitely empowering.”