By Sana Elouazi
The Nike Pro Hijab is available in stores as of December 1 and has been tested and approved by top athletes, including the talented fencer Ibtihaj Muhammad, the first headscarf-wearing American to represent the United States in international competitions, including the Olympic Games in Rio in 2016.
The garment has also been tested by Egyptian running coach Manal Rostom and Emirati figure skater Zahra Lari.
The Nike Pro Hijab comes at the result of “an ongoing cultural shift that has seen more women than ever embracing sport,” said the American giant in a statement.
The brand says that it spent a year designing the Nike Pro Hijab, which is made of a lightweight, soft, and breathable fabric.
“The Nike Pro Hijab has been a year in the making but its impetus can be traced much further back to Nike’s founding mission, to serve athletes, with the signature addendum: If you have a body, you’re an athlete,” the company said
The launch of this new garment follows Nike Middle East’s viral ad campaign “What Will They Say About You,” which was hailed for featuring Muslim women athletes such as Emirati Zahra Lari, Tunisian fencer Inès Boubakri, and Jordanian boxer Arifa Bseiso.
By offering this new product, Nike hopes to “inspire more women and girls in the region who still face barriers and limited access to sport.”
The Nike Pro Hijab, sold for EUR 30, will be soon available in the Middle Eastern region, where the company has 24 stores in the United Arab Emirates and 28 in Saudi Arabia, as well as an Arabic version of its training app.
Nike is not the first brand to provide clothing designed for Muslim women. In early 2016, Dolce & Gabbana launched “Abaya”, their first collection of dresses and veils for Muslim women.
However, this trend of Islamic fashion does not please everyone and has sparked controversy. In March 2016, Laurence Rossignol, then French Minister of Children, Families and Women’s Rights, had criticized the brands that launch clothing for Muslim women.
“We can not admit that it is trivial and harmless that major brands are investing in this market […] It’s irresponsible on the part of these brands,” said Rossignol.
French feminist writer Elisabeth Badinter, followed by many other intellectuals, also called for a boycott of similar Islamic clothing.