Nike will be releasing a Pro Hijab for female Muslim athletes in early 2018. According to the company, the Muslim women who visited its headquarters in Beaverton, Oregon complained about the difficulties of wearing a traditional hijab while competing. The company consulted with female Muslim athletes worldwide to design the hijab.
Nike looks to expand business in the Middle East
Nike understands the requirement of proper apparel for female athletes. The company, which is worth almost $27 billion, has now turned its sights to the Middle East for its most recent market expansion. The hijab, which will come in three color variants – gray, obsidian and dark – is made of stretchy mesh polyester (a flexible and lightweight material). The hijab is expected to cost $35.
Zahra Lari, the first figure skater from the United Arab Emirates; Amna Al Haddad, an Olympic weight lifter from the United Arab Emirates; and Manal Rostom, an Egyptian triathlete and runner, have tested the hijab in its different stages of development, reports The New York Times. Lari, who modeled the Nike hijab, posted a picture of herself wearing the pro hijab to mark International Women’s Day.
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This is not the first time Nike is trying to expand its business in the Middle East. According to the Times, the company launched an Arabic version of its Nike & Training Club app in 2016, and last month, it started a campaign featuring five female athletes from the Arab region with the tagline, “What will they say about you?”
Hijabs gaining acceptance
Not all are happy with Nike’s new apparel. One Twitter user said, “Most patronising. I’ve been wearing a scarf and exercising fine for years, just as small businesses have BEEN making scarves for activewear.”
However, nowadays, it is pretty common to see hijabi-wearing athletes competing in international games. Just last year, we saw fencer Ibtihaj Muhammad wearing a hijab and representing the United States at the Olympics. Big organizations are also slowly lifting their bans on this religious headgear. FIFA removed its ban on the religious headgear in 2014, allowing female players to play while wearing a hijab. The basketball organization FIBA has not lifted its ban yet, but we could get an answer on the matter by May, notes the NY Times.
It is not just Nike that is making hijabs for female athletes. Hummel, a Danish sportswear company, revealed a soccer jersey with an attached hijab last year for the women’s national soccer team in Afghanistan. Small sporting brands like ResportOn and Capsters have also been seen as leading brands of sporting hijabs, notes the BBC.