The Pro Hijab: Nike’s Latest Take On The Modest Sportswear Industry

I had just lauded the beauty sect for taking to diversity and inclusion, now, activewear marque – Nike, usher us into International women’s day with the launch of their new product, the pro Hijab. The Pro Hijab is a collaboration between Muslim athletes in the Middle East which features participants Zahra Lari, the first figure skater from the United Arab Emirates ; Manal Rostom, a runner and triathlete currently living in Dubai; and Amna Al Haddad, an Olympic weight lifter from the United Arab Emirates.

 

Nike’s latest market extension has gotten quite a reaction – obviously, seeing that it came from one of the most validated sportswear brands in the world. Firstly, I feel it is important to point out that Nike isn’t the first mainstream sports brand to cater to the needs of female muslim athletes. There have been brands such as Oregon -based Oiselle, Danish brand Hummel and more who have since recognized the need for representation.

However, Nike’s take on the modest sportswear industry could be exactly what is needed. With Nike’s recent involvement, perhaps, exclusions like the ban on head-covering by FIBA, the Basketball federation which yet to be rescinded will be overturned following its new partnership with the sportswear marque – Nike is ‘the official partner for product and marketing at Fiba’s biggest competitions’ – including the Fiba women’s basketball World Cup – providing apparel, footwear, and equipment. Will that include its new hijab?” A remark by ESPN sportswriter Kavitha Davidson. It would be rather absurd for Nike to partner with a federation that excludes the same hijabis, don’t you think?

Zahra Lari

Beyond exclusion, there is the need for comfort. Female Muslim athletes constantly struggle with finding headgear that will not slow them down or distract them from arduous physical exercise which is why they are creating and designing their own hijabs from crowdsourcing and fundraising. It was weight-lifter Amna Al Haddad who consulted with Nike and came up with some ideas based on her own experience. She had been finding it difficult to acquire a hijab that met her requirements for her weight-lifting competitions — pointing out that it would not shift when she moved and that it would be more breathable — this inspired the Pro Hijab project – Nike spokeswoman Megan Saalfeld explained that this hijab was created “as a direct result of our athletes telling us they needed this product to perform better, and we hope that it will help athletes around the world do just that.”

The hijab is expected to cost $35, is made of a lightweight, stretchy mesh polyester and will come in gray, black and obsidian. Let me translate . It is very affordable, the fabrics are super comfortable and the hijabs come in toned-down sporty hues.

Manal Rostom

While this doesn’t exactly mean that Nike have become the Messiah for female muslim athletes, their support does mean a lot. “For us, we come up with ideas, and ways to be comfortable in what we wear, but to have the No. 1 sport and fitness brand in the world facilitate this process for us?To provide something  we can grab and wear in 10 seconds? It’s going to change everything.” remarked runner and triathlete Manal Rostom. Some athletes not be for the brand’s signature ‘Swoosh’ but it is undeniable that Nike’s hand can turn things around.

Abiodun Odusola
abiodunodusola@ymail.com
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