DUBAI – Nike will soon begin selling a performance hijab for Muslim women athletes.
The head cover, called the “Nike Pro Hijab,” boasts a single-layer pull-on design made from lightweight polyester in dark, neutral colors. The fabric’s tiny holes will make it breathable while remaining opaque, a requirement for hijab-wearing women.
Nike (NKE) said it began developing the hijab after some Muslim athletes complained about wearing a traditional head scarf during competition.
The design process took 13 months, and the final product will be available for sale in the company’s Spring 2018 season.
Nike said the hijab is already being worn by Emirati figure skater Zahra Lari.
“I was thrilled and a bit emotional to see Nike prototyping a Hijab,” Lari said in a statement. “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.”
The move comes just weeks after a controversial Nike ad released in the Middle East.
It featured five successful female professional from different parts of the Arab world pursing their athletic dreams while a voice asks, “what will they say about you?” It’s a rhetorical question that many young Arab women face if they step out of cultural and traditional norms.
The video went viral with million of views on social media, prompting a debate over its message.