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Nike has a hijab design for sportswomen and people can't handle it

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Picture: Nike

Figure skater Zahra Lari and weight lifter Amna Al Haddad designed and tested Nike's newest product for women: the Nike Pro Hijab.

The scarf won’t be in stores until 2018 but its creation has prompted some strong reactions on both sides of the fence.

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Picture: Nike

 

In a statement, the brand said:

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.

Some people are in celebration:

 

 

Others are calling for a Nike boycott (?!)

The reasoning behind their outrage remains muddled. 

 

 

The attention prompted Amna to release a statement on her official Instagram account:

From my perspective as a former athlete who competed in Hijab, in the past, the big brands didn’t see the need or market for it as it was not “popular” and it was unheard of to see women train, exercise and compete in hijab. It is a recent phenomenon where more women have expressed a need for it and more professional athletes have fought for rights to compete with a headscarf, and have an equal playing field.

 

With the Nike Pro Hijab Launch, I do realize there is a lot of mixed reactions as to why Nike decided to create such a product “now.” __ From my perspective as a former athlete who competed in Hijab, in the past, the big brands didn’t see the need or market for it as it was not “popular” and it was unheard of to see women train, exercise and compete in hijab. __ It is a recent phenomenon where more women have expressed a need for it and more professional athletes have fought for rights to compete with a headscarf, and have an equal playing field. We made it big in the news, we couldn’t be ignored. __ As Muslim women, we have been vocal in the media about it – personally since 2011 – the big guys can’t help but notice us “the underdogs” and our impact in the sports industry and world. They know that we are here to stay and decided to join the party and create another “competitive” sport hijab in the market, which by the way, did exist in the market for few years now. __ As an innovative company, they will create products and they will meet market needs – whatever they may be. It is not dismissing any other hard work done in the past to develop sports hijabs, it’s just there is more competition in the market for modest clothing now. __ I support Muslim women with or without hijab, and how they dress is their choice. And with the Nike Sports Hijab, it surely will encourage a new generation of athletes to pursue sports professionally, and without us athletes who fought for this right and made it happen, Nike wouldn’t “just do it.” __ Ps. This is purely my opinion on the matter, not paid for or asked to be written. Much Love, -Amna

A post shared by آمنة الحداد Amna Al Haddad 🇦🇪 (@amna.s.alhaddad) on

 

indy100 spoke to journalist and researcher Afia Ahmed. She thinks Nike's decision is about inclusivity, and calling it 'Pro Hijab' can "reflect an openness and acceptance towards and of Hijab".

What about consumerism and religious attire? 

I don't think it delegitimises the religious aspect considering it’s allowing for women to adhere to some of their religious values whilst participating in their chosen sport, and thus making it easier on them.

Afia points out that Muslim companies have been making "hijab-friendly sports gear for a while," and the changing nature of the industry means that more and more mainstream brands will incorporate Muslim fashion.

In terms of main stream brands or Muslim start up brands being the future of the industry, I think it's safe to say that we already know which brands dominate the markets and will be monopolising on 'Muslim' and 'Islamic fashion'.

I think we'll have a few rule breaking exceptions; I.e. A few Muslim start-ups will 'make it', but the industry itself is dominated by well-known brands which will integrate the Muslim market into their client base. They already have the resources to do so, whereas start-ups would require the initial backing and funding, which can prove extremely difficult.

Saying that, Afia believes that Nike's decision is still a far cry from making Hijab a mainstream and accepted concept. 

I believe that the catapulting of the Hijab into the limelight doesn't suddenly mean a universal acceptance of Islamic values.

No. It simply means that capital markets, private market forces, are now able to make benefit from Muslim women, attaching monetary value to them.


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