Nike has always been at the forefront of cutting edge designs, athletic fashion and diversity, and it continued that trend when it launched its plus-size sportswear line earlier this month. To keep the fire hot, Nike has announced that its latest effort is dedicated to cultural inclusion and recognition of the fact that religious observances can be respected, maintained and incorporated into sports.
Nike's Pro Hijab is designed for female Muslim athletes, again proving that sports is for all and all can play sports.
Said Nike in a statement:
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 … This movement first permeated international consciousness in 2012, when a hijabi runner [Sarah Attar] took the global stage in London.
Megan Saalfeld, a Nike spokesperson, said that the idea of developing a sports hijab came from Emirati female Olympic weightlifting athlete, Amna Al Haddad, who visited the Nike Sports Research Lab and discussed that fact that no one hijab worked for her in training and in competitions. That's when the light went off and Nike went to work, working with a variety of athletes on a performance hijab, which is set to launch in the spring of 2018.
Although this is not the first effort made towards reaching a diverse group of athletes that many fail to recognize, acknowledging religious inclusion in athletic activities or fighting for the right to play with a hijab, it's encouraging to see a major company like Nike continue to change perceptions of what an athlete is and what they look like, and that barriers to athletics can be removed no matter your gender, location, body type or religion. In today's environment, its an absolute must.
And if sports has to lead the way in the fight for diversity, inclusion and respect, then let's go.