Update (1st December 2017): Today, Nike has made its long-awaited Hijab Pro collection available for Muslim women worldwide. The brand has been developing it with help from top athletes for over a year and has officially made it available online and at select retailers in more than 20 countries across Europe, North Africa, North America and across the Middle East. It currently only comes in black and obsidian but will be available in other colours, including white and grey, in January.
This story was originally published on 7th March, 2017.
Nike met with UAE weightlifter Amna Al Haddad, who expressed frustrations that her hijab shifts while she lifts, and lacks breathability. After the meeting, Nike worked to develop the Pro Hijab, which will be available next spring.
Nike test-drove the prototype on several hijabi athletes from various countries. "As each country has its own particular hijab style, the ideal design would need to accommodate variances,” the brand described in an official press release. Nike also solicited the impressions of local Muslim communities to ensure the design met cultural requirements.
The final result is made of single-layer Nike Pro mesh, Nike’s most breathable fabric. It features “strategically-placed” non-visible holes for optimal breathability. The fabric is also stretchy, meaning the hijab is essentially one-size-fits-all, and will adapt to both the wearer’s head and any headgear or uniform their sport may require. The back is also elongated so it doesn’t come untucked.
This story was originally published on February 23rd, 2017.
"By providing Muslim athletes with the most groundbreaking products, like the Nike Pro Hijab, Nike aims to serve today’s pioneers as well as inspire even more women and girls in the region who still face barriers and limited access to sport: Fewer than one in seven girls participate in locally recommended sport activities for 60 minutes or more."
A feminist Nike ad has managed to tick off a lot of people with bad opinions about women.
The ad opens with a woman running in a hijab and a Nike-branded tunic. Another woman in a hijab stares daggers at her. Then, a hijab-wearing woman skateboards past frame. A man is clearly pissed about her rebellion.
"What will they say about you?" a woman's voice narrates in the Saudi dialect. "Maybe they'll say you exceeded all expectations."
Nike filmed the ad in the more run-down suburbs of Dubai. It's meant to reflect both the judgement faced by average women trying to lead an active lifestyle as well as some of its stars. After all, they both have to run on the same streets.
One of the stars is Emirati parkour runner Amal Mourad. She's the one jumping between rooftops. She tells Reuters that she struggled to convince her dad to let her train in a gym also used by men. She did so, and now teaches class in a gym that allows gender mixing.
"Convincing my father was the toughest part...if you want something bad enough you stick to it, and you can get it done," Mourad tells Reuters.
You get the idea. The ad features young Middle Eastern women doing things like boxing, swimming, running parkour, and essentially living normal active lives. Naturally, the ad elicits some strong opinions.
Before we tell you what they are, take a look yourself.
Pretty empowering stuff. And the online reaction has indeed been mostly positive. Here's a brief sampling.
We expected to find a deluge of negative or hateful comments. Those were refreshingly absent from the online discourse around this advertisement. Does that mean something good for humanity? Probably, but let's not fall head over heels. After all, this is a company that's selling a product. It's nice that they're advancing a feminist message, but it's not like they're suddenly going to make men and women equal worldwide. Saudi Arabia, for example, still forbids physical education in girls' schools.
But the ad is a good start, to say the least.