There has been a lot of controversy surrounding hijabs in recent years, but Nike took a stand by putting out the “Nike Pro Hijab.” These performance hijabs are sleek and practical so that Muslim athletes are able to enjoy the same workouts without the same struggles of their everyday coverings.
Amna Al Haddad, an Olympic weightlifter, suggested the offer when she visited the label’s sport research lab in Beaverton, Oregon. She said she had a sport hijab, but that it needed to be hand-washed each time she competed.
Nike proceeded to work on the design for 13 months before coming out with the Nike Pro Hijab silhouette. The active brand had to consider many different aspects when designing their looks; for practicality, breathability was a must, as the Arab Gulf countries can sometimes reach upwards of 130 degrees Fahrenheit (54.4 degrees Celsius). Practicality also called for flexibility, security, and the possibility for easy washing.
But designers also had to take into consideration religious and cultural values, so balancing all of these aspects took quite a while to finalize.
“The Nike Pro Hijab may have been more than a year in a making, but its impetus can be traced much further back, to an ongoing cultural shift that has seen more women than ever embracing sport,” Nike said in a statement.
Nike first released a commercial, which was shot in Dubai, to announce the new innovation. It featured Muslim athletes like Amal Mourad, an Emirati Parkour coach; Zahra Lari, the first Emirati to become an international-level figure skater, and the first to wear a hijab in the Olympics; Arifa Bseiso, a boxer from Jordan; Balqees Fathi, a singer from Saudi Arabia; and Ines Boubakri, an Olympic medalist and fencer from Tunisia.
“What will they say about you?” narrator Fatima Al-Banawi, an actress from Saudi Arabia, asked the women in the spot. In response, the athletes were shown training and competing in an empowering series of clips.
“There are barriers for many people to access sport, and some of these barriers are unique to woemn and girls,” Megan Saalfeld, a global spokeswoman, said on Al Arabiya English. “We want to help break down these barriers and encourage and enable more women to be pioneers in sport.”
Supporters took to Twitter, like Rowaida Abdelaziz, the world social media editor for the Huffington Post.
“As a jijab wearing athlete, I’m stoked for @nike’s pro hijab line. Moreso I love that its approved/featured by ACTUAL hijab wearing athletes,” her tweet read. She, and others, said they loved the authenticity of the product and the way in which it was released.
“… it fulfills a real need for many women. I hope other companies compete, too!” Read part of a tweet by freelance journalist Ismat Sarah Mangla.
Along these lines of competition, this release already has supporters looking ahead for the brand.
“Nike Tech Fleece Hijabs in the winter,” wrote @SirBryanMichael. It wouldn’t be all that surprising and would actually be another practical option for Muslim athletes, if Nike plans to expand in the future.
The Nike Pro Hijab will finally hit stores next year, in spring 2018.
Photos courtesy of Nike