Nike introduces performance hijab

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COURTESY PHOTO: Rahaf Khatib

Nike recently announced it will release the Nike Pro Hijab in Spring 2018. The retail price will be $35.

The Hijab is marketed toward Muslim women, who are specifically looking for something more comfortable than a traditional Hijab while working out.

“I go to Planet Fitness,” said Radia Khan, a Delta college student. “I just wear ethnic clothes and I just wear a small hijab. As long as you respect your religion, it is OK to wear it.”

Khan is proud to wear her Hijab.

Not everyone feels that way. “I think it really depends on people. If they wear it they probably feel comfortable while wearing it and some people don’t wear it because they don’t feel comfortable in public,” said Khan.

Nike’s final, pull-on design is constructed from durable single-layer Nike Pro power mesh. Nike’s most breathable fabric, the lightweight polyester features tiny, strategically placed holes for optimal breathability but remains completely opaque, with a soft touch, according to Nike.com.

The concept took 13 months to create and was designed by different Muslim professional women athletes like Emirati figure skater Zahra Lari as well as, many “everyday” active Muslim women.

According to Nike, at the request of the athletes, designers placed a signature Nike Swoosh just above the left ear to highlight the hijab’s pinnacle performance nature.

This isn’t the first athletically designed Hijab for Muslim women.

Online shops like Nashata (shop.nashata.com) and Veil Garments (veilgarments.com) have produced a similar product.

The significance of Nike creating one is the athletic Hijab will be produced from a global, mainstream brand.

“I think it’s wonderful they’re finally recognizing the need for it,” said Rahaf Khatib, a cover model for Women’s Running Magazine. “I don’t know why it took them this long. But we’re here, we exist. We’ve been working out and running and whatever, participating in sports.”

Khatib is a mother of three children, a marathoner and a triathlete. “I usually use running caps which I find in the men’s section in running stores,” said Khatib. “I like the Nike, Saucony, there’s a few other brands, Asics I think I have one. They’re all from the men’s section and I wear those and I wear hoodies, athletic tops with hoodies. I’m always in long sleeves of course, per customary traditions and long pants.”

Khatib has nearly 10,000 followers on her Instagram page with the name “runlikeahijabi.” Khatib won the Women’s Running Magazine cover search competition last year.

Her Instagram account was created for the cover search. Still continued it after the competition.

“I kept the page open for people to get some training tips, running tips and more importantly raise awareness about Muslim Americans. Especially Muslim American athletes like myself. I had noticed the lack on Instagram on Muslim American runners such as myself who cover,” said Khatib.

Nike’s production of the hijab is encouraging.

“I’m happy this is finally happening and I wish that hopefully other brands will follow soon. That way you have more than one option just like you have running shoes. So I hope that will open the door for more athletic brands to create more modest wear especially, along with athletic hijabs,” said Khatib.

Not everyone is as excited. #BoycottNike started linking posts soon after the announcement.

Critics say they will never buy from the brand again. One said Nike was “promoting the very symbol of female oppression.” Twitter user PuffnPuffn emphasized: “Nike where subjugation of women meet capitalism.” Nike first released the idea in a commercial airing in the Middle East.

It showed a woman wearing a hijab riding a skateboard, another boxing and another power lifting. All aimed to encourage Arab women to break down female oppression.

“I feel like it’s a statement that shatters stereotypes and it breaks barriers. That Hijabi women can do whatever they want to do, there’s no excuse not to, just because you are wearing hijab,” said Khatib.