Nike Breaks a Work Barrier For Women With Hijab for Muslim Athletes

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Offline shafayet

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Nike continues raising the bar on diversity and making its products more inclusive for women. Last week, it was promoting its first plus-size women’s apparel collection with British style bloggers; this week it released a “pro hijab” design concept for Muslim women athletes who choose to compete in a hijab—and a high-performance one at that.

The design stems from Nike Middle East’s current campaign featuring women in hijabs, which didn’t indicate whether Nike was producing them. Turns out it is indeed. Designing the hijab took 13 months and it will be available for Spring 2018.

Nike Women hijab Muslim

The Nike Pro Hijab aims to serve Muslim female athletes with a single layer of thin polyester with small holes to make it breathable while remaining opaque, a requirement for hijab-wearing women. Designed with Muslim athletes, it comes in neutral and dark colors, and is longer in the back so it remains tucked in during competition.

Zahra Lari, the United Arab Emirates’ first international figure skater posted on Instagram she is “super excited” to be a part of Nike’s campaign and will be wearing the Nike-branded hijab on the ice, as she shows in her Insta photo.

Speaking with Vogue Arabia, which just launched in print with a hijab-clad Gigi Hadid on the cover, Lari commented that she wants people to know that “Emirati athletes are strong” and “confident women.”

“People may think or tell you that you can’t do certain things, but I’m going to show them you absolutely can. I am covered, I am Muslim, I am from a desert country, and I’m doing a winter sport.”

Nike has been promoting #Equality (as a belief and as the name of its campaign) on and off the field (court, ice, pool). It created the Nike Pro Hijab concept following criticism from Muslim athletes about having to sport a traditional head cover while competing, as CNN notes, although the Nike swoosh first appeared on a female athlete’s hijab in 2006.

“I was thrilled and a bit emotional to see Nike prototyping a Hijab,”  Lari continued. “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.”

Nike clearly has struck a chord—its recent Middle East ad featuring five female athletes from different parts of the Arab world has garnered more than 2.2 million views on You Tube.

As Nike+ Run Club Coach Manal Rostom told Vogue Arabia, there are many “There are a lot of… women and girls who are breaking barriers. For me, growing up, though, I never had these women to look up to. I had to break these barriers for myself.”

With the rising profile for hijab-wearing women entering the fashion mainstream—including hijab-wearing model Halima Aden walking for MaxMara Fall 2017—and sports, it’s fitting for one of the world’s leading sports apparel brands to cater to its Muslim female customers.

It’s also a development that—while not explicitly tied to International Women’s Day, like its Nike Women spots for its Russian and Turkish markets, below—is certainly in step with this year’s IWD theme: #BeBoldForChange and transform the world of work. Making competition more inclusive for professional Muslim women athletes in their workplace is a signal of inclusivity to all.