In this day and age, companies acknowledge that inclusivity is a necessity for growing a business and attracting all types of consumers. Nike is becoming more inclusive by launching a line of athletic gear for female Muslim athletes which will help keep their hair covered. Although Nike is not the first sportswear line to offer sports hijabs, they are the first mainstream United States company to offer this option. It is called the “Nike Pro Hijab,” and is scheduled to launch in the spring of 2018 at $35. The hijab has been tested by Muslim athletes to ensure the best quality such as Zahra Lari from the United Arab Emirates and Egyptian runner Manal Rostom.
Many athletes expressed how the traditional hijab would often come out of place while competing. The lack of breathability of a traditional hijab has also been a problem for Muslim athletes. Nike promises to get rid of this problem by making its hijab with polyester which include small holes for ventilation. The stretchy fabric will also allow the hijab to conform to the athlete’s head. An elongated back is another feature to the hijab to prevent it from coming out of place.
Nike’s inspiration for starting a line of athletic hijabs came from Sarah Attar, a runner from Saudi Arabia who competed in the London Olympics 800-meter race while wearing a hijab and Amna Al Haddad, an Emirati weightlifter who also wore a hijab while competing in the Rio Olympics last summer.
Nike worked closely with these athletes to ensure that consumers would be completely satisfied with its product. With the current political and social climate of the United States, this announcement could not have come at a better time. Muslim women deserve to feel included in sports and deserve to have the option of wearing a sports hijab.
This Nike project is a step in the right direction. The project, however, does not completely change the fact that in some sports, athletes are prevented from wearing a hijab altogether. For example, the International Basketball Federation has a policy that bans any headgear including religious garments wider than 5 centimeters. This policy automatically disqualifies Muslim athletes that wear a hijab or a turban.
There is no doubt that making these sports hijabs will increase profits for Nike and also encourage Muslim women and girls to engage in sports by making them feel more comfortable. By catering to the needs of Muslim women, Nike can help normalize hijabs in sports. Other mainstream brands are being more inclusive of Muslim women such as Dolce & Gabbana. Last year they debuted a line of high-end hijabs and abayas targeted toward Muslim women. Dolce & Gabbana is also giving Muslim women a wider range of choices, much like what Nike is doing with its sports hijabs.
Nike has a big influence in sports, so by taking the plunge into manufacturing sports hijabs, they can lead the way to more inclusion for Muslim women in sports.