Nike has announced that it would release a Pro Hijab for female Muslim athletes in spring 2018.
Nike is an American multinational company engaged in designing and sales of apparel, footwear and equipments.
The clothing giant understands the difference apparel can make to an athlete, and like any viable business, it knows the world is full of potential customers.
Nike has worked alongside a team of athletes to develop a single-layer stretchy hijab that could “change the face of sport for Muslim girls”.
The Pro Hijab is the result of a year-long collaborative process between Nike and top female Muslim athletes, such as Olympic weightlifter Amna Al Haddad, tri-athlete and runner Manal Rustom and figure skater Zahra Lari.
The hijab is made of lightweight, stretchy mesh polyester and will come in gray, black and obsidian. The fabric’s tiny holes make it breathable while remaining opaque.
When working on the design, Nike took on board the concerns athletes face when wearing a hijab, and examined the ways it affected their performance.
Al Haddad, who is from the United Arab Emirates, recounted how the garment’s weight, its likelihood of moving around and its lack of breathability disrupted her focus.
“The one obstacle that’s always there if you’re a hijabi is what are you going to wear on your head?” said Al Haddad.
“For us, we come up with ideas and ways to be comfortable in what we wear, but to have the number one sport and fitness brand in the world facilitate this process for us is going to change everything.”
The Nike Pro team took Al Haddad’s feedback on board, and looked into how they could make a performance hijab similar to other Pro products.
The final design is constructed from a single layer of Nike Pro’s power mesh fabric. This polyester features tiny holes that make it breathable, but it remains completely opaque.
The Pro Hijab stretches to adapt to the wearer’s head and is optimised for sport. The design process took thirteen months, and the final product will be available for sale in the company’s Spring 2018 season.
“Ice skating, for example, requires a tighter fit for twirling,” said Nike.
“The back of the hijab is also elongated to ensure it doesn’t come untucked. Fluff threads were used at the neck to eliminate the rubbing and irritation that can occur when an athlete sweats.”
Al Haddad and Nike also hope that it can encourage Muslim women and girls worldwide to take part in sports and physical activity.
“It’s revolutionary and will change the face of sport for Muslim Arab girls,” said Al Haddad.
“You have no idea how important this is. It’s going to inspire girls worldwide to follow their passion for sports.”
Nike said the hijab is already being worn by Emirati figure skater Zahra Lari. “I was thrilled and a bit emotional to see Nike prototyping a Hijab,” Lari said in a statement.
“I’ve tried so many different hijabs for performance, and … so few of them actually work for me. But once I put it on and took it for a spin on the ice, I was blown away by the fit and the light weight.”
The move comes just weeks after a Nike advertisement released in the Middle East featured five successful female professional from different parts of the Arab world pursing their athletic dream.
— Nike (@Nike) March 8, 2017