Following the release of the "What Will They Say About You" commercial last month, Nike announced this week that they are developing a "Pro Hijab" for Muslim athletes. Nike says the pull-on head covering has been more than a year in the making and features their "most breathable" fabric to suit athletes across a number of different sports. It will be available in dark and neutral colours, and the tiny holes in the fabric will keep it breathable while remaining opaque, a requirement for women who wear hijab.
"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," Nike said in a statement. "This movement first permeated international consciousness in 2012, when a hijabi runner took the global stage in London."
That hijabi runner mentioned in the release is Sarah Attar, who was one of first two women to represent Saudi Arabia in the Olympics. According to USA Today, Emirati weightlifter Amna Al Haddad also helped inspire the product. Haddad spoke to Nike at length about the issues she had with athletic hijabs since she only had one hijab she could wear and was forced to hand wash it every night during competitions. Maybe most important to her performance was that the weight and lack of breathability made it hard for her to focus.
Emirati figure skater Zahra Lari is already wearing Nike's hijab. In a statement, she said she was "thrilled and a bit emotional to see Nike prototyping a Hijab. I've tried so many different hijabs for performance, and ... 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." Zahra also shared a photo of her wearing the new hijab skating via her Instagram account.
The product will be available in stores in early 2018 and is part of Nike's ongoing move to attract Muslim customers from all over the world as some estimates predict that the Islamic market will be worth more than five trillion dollars by 2020.