Nike are launching a Pro Hijab range in a bid to lead the movement for greater inclusivity in sport.
The 2016 Rio Olympics restored some hope in closing the gender gap in sport participation with 45 per cent of athletes competing being women, but when this inequality is only just being tackled, imagine how inaccessible the industry is for Muslim women.
The sports brand is looking back to it’s founding mission for this project – to serve athletes, marked by their signature addendum ‘If you have a body, you’re an athlete’.
Gender and race should not marginalise athletes, and creating a range that caters to the modest cultural requirements of Muslim women.
American fencer Ibtihaj Muhammad was the first woman to wear a Hijab on team USA in the Olympics in Rio 2016. As Muslim women start breaking through the numerous metaphorical ceilings to the world stage, the Hijab is becoming a much more common sight.
United Arab Emirates’ weightlifter Amna Al Haddad has been an important inspiration for Nike as she struggled to find a Hijab that didn’t shift during action while allowing sufficient breathability.
The Nike Pro team, which focuses on creating athletes’ base layers, took feedback from Muslim athletes as well as consulting with advocates and local communities to create a performance hijab that was like a second skin.
The Pro Hijab is a pull-on design made from a single layer mesh with tiny holes for breathability, keeping it completely opaque, and finished with their trademark Swoosh above the left ear at the request of the athletes to highlight the hijab’s pinnacle performance nature.
While womenswear currently accounts for just one-fifth of Nike’s sales, it is the fastest-growing area of its business.
The last few years has seen a huge focus on active wear for women, but I think it is important not to take the focus away from sport and turn it to aesthetics, because this only further facilitates sexist gender norms.
The Pro Hijab range, available in black, vast grey and obsidian, will be released early next year.