For International Women’s History Month Nike has unveiled the latest in inclusive gear: the Nike Pro Hijab.
Teased in What Will They Say About You?, a Nike Middle East marketing campaign that went viral, the Nike Pro Hijab is a piece of performance gear for female Muslim athletes all over the world.
إيش حيقولوا عنك؟
يمكن يقولوا إنك تخطيتي كل التوقعات.
— Nike Middle East (@NikeMiddleEast) February 18, 2017
“The Nike Pro Hijab may have been more than a year in the making, but its impetus can be traced much further back, to an ongoing cultural shift that has seen more women than ever embracing sport,” a statement from Nike read, according to Al Arabiya English.
“The Nike Pro Hijab was designed as a direct result of our athletes telling us they needed this product to perform better, and we hope that it will help athletes around the world do just that,” Global Nike Spokeswoman Megan Saalfeld told Al Arabiya English.
The idea for a performance hijab was born after female Emirati Olympic weightlifting athlete Amna Al Haddad visited Nike’s research facility at the brand’s global headquarters in Oregon. She had only one hijab that worked for her, and she had to wash it by hand each night in the sink for competitions. Thus, Nike got to work on developing a lightweight and breathable hijab that wouldn’t shift.
And it had to be breathable because a hijab covers the neck. The Middle East/Gulf Arabic region is one of the hottest in the world and temperatures often hit over 125° Fahrenheit. Thus, the Nike Pro Hijab will be made of a polyester mesh with many small perforations to vent heat.
The Nike Pro Hijab was wear tested by elite Nike athletes like the groundbreaking Emirati figure skater Zahra Lari and Nike+ Run Club Coach Manal Rotsam. Even everyday athletes from the Middle East assessed the hijabs, according to the Nike statement.
While the Nike Pro Hijab was unveiled yesterday, the line won’t actually hit retail until spring of 2018, and that begs an interesting question: what has taken so long?
The Nike statement continued, “This movement first permeated international consciousness in 2012, when a hijabi runner took the global stage in London.” That runner is Saudi Arabia’s Sarah Attar, who competed in 800m heats at the London Olympics.
However, according to Al Arabiya English, eight years before the London Olympics a Bahraini sprinter named Ruqaya al-Ghasra competed in the 2004 Athens Olympics while wearing a hijab — and she competed again in Beijing in 2008. It seems apparent that the need for a performance hijab isn’t new.
After Nike CEO Mark Parker released a statement at the end of January condemning President Trump’s travel ban, the brand has focused on inclusive marketing — the Equality campaign over All-Star Weekend, the Nike Plus Size Collection, and the What Will They Say About You? are just some examples.
To read about the first American athlete to compete in the Olympics wearing a hijab, click here.
What do you think about the Nike Pro Hijab? Is it about time or just a marketing ploy? Let us know.
Source: Al Arabiya English / Photos via Nike