Nike has announced a hijab designed for Muslim athletes is currently in production and due to be released next year.
The pull-on hijab is made from light, stretchy polyester fabric and will be available in a choice of three colours: grey, black, and obsidian.
The product has already been tested by several high-profile Muslim athletes including Zahra Lari, a figure skate from the United Arab Emirates; Manal Rostom, a runner and triathlete living in Dubai; and Amna Al Haddad, an Olympic weightlifter from the United Arab Emirates.
Nike has already been paying more attention to the Muslim and Middle East market for some time and has already released an Arabic version of its training app and an advertising campaign featuring five female Arabic athletes.
The number of female athletes in the Middle East is growing. Brunei, Qatar, and Saudi Arabia all sent women to compete in the Olympics for the first time in 2012. Now many young hijabi athletes are in search of role models and Nike hopes the new campaigns and products on offers will inspire them.
The announced release of the sports hijab did not come without controversy. Some have threatened to boycott the brand on social media, claiming that the hijab symbolizes and normalizes the oppression of women. Religious headwear was also banned until 2014 by FIFA and the basketball organization, FIBA, still has a ban in place.
However female Muslim athletes have applauded the development of the product as a step forward in inclusiveness and acceptance for all those who wish to take part in sports wearing clothing of their choice. It has previously been difficult for Muslim women to find hijab to wear during physical exercise that will not slow them down or that stay cool and comfortable.
Nike said: “When we spoke to athletes in the region, they told us that this was something they wanted and needed.”
The Pro Hijab is expected to retail at around $35 and will be released in spring, 2018.