Nike has dubbed it “groundbreaking” but we can’t help but wonder what took them so long. The sporting giant has unveiled its Nike Pro Hijab, a lightweight, breathable, adjustable, competition-worthy garment for hijab-wearing athletes.
Modest wear is currently storming the catwalks and making inroads in online retail (The Modist, a site dedicated to modest fashion, is due to launch imminently), so it makes perfect sense that it would also be making an impact in the sportswear sector.
The Nike Pro Hijab has been in development for over a year and will not actually be available in stores until spring 2018. It was created in consultation with top-flight athletes such as Amna Al Haddad, a female weightlifter from the UAE. Al Haddad highlighted some key problems that she regularly encountered while competing in a hijab: how the garment’s weight, the potential for it to shift during action and its lack of breathability tended to disrupt her focus. She also emphasised the difficulty of finding performance hijabs — she herself owned only one covering that was competition-worthy, and found herself having to hand wash it nightly during competitions.
Nike created a range of sample hijabs that were passed on to Al Haddad and other hijab-wearing athletes, including Emirati figure skater Zahra Lari and Nike+ Run Club Coach Manal Rostom, as well as everyday athletes in the region, for testing and feedback.
“I was really hesitant when I first saw it,” says Lari. “I was thrilled and a bit emotional to see Nike prototyping a hijab, but I’ve tried so many different hijabs for performance, and with how fast I spin on the ice and in training, 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.”
As well as having to make the garment as lightweight as possible, Nike was alerted to the need to modify the fit to accommodate a range of face sizes and shapes. An adjustment mechanism would increase weight, so the designers created the head covering in sizes ranging from XS/S to M/L.
The design is constructed from durable, single-layer Nike Pro power mesh, Nike’s most breathable fabric, which features tiny, strategically placed holes for optimal breathability but remains completely opaque. The back of the hijab is elongated to ensure that it doesn’t come untucked and fluff threads were used at the neck to eliminate the rubbing and irritation that can occur when an athlete sweats. The brand’s signature Swoosh is located just above the left ear.
The hijab’s will initially be available in black, grey and obsidian. “It means the world to have the leading sport brand in the world come up with a product like this,” says Manal Rostom, Nike+ Run Club Coach. “It’s not just speaking to athletes, but speaking to the whole word that Nike supports all athletes to literally go out there and Just Do It.”
The Nike Pro Hijab will be priced at around $35 (Dh129).