Back in February, Nike Middle East introduced a breathable, athletic hijab in an empowering commercial. It seemed practical and functional but wasn’t available for U.S. consumers until now. After a series of prototypes and feedback from Muslim athletes, Nike Pro has globally launched its first-ever sports hijab, and the women who wear it in the campaign athletes Ibtihaj Muhammad, Zahra Lari, and Zeina Nassar look fierce.
Zahra, an ice dancer from the United Arab Emirates, says the new hijab is “a reminder to us Muslim women that we can achieve anything in the world. What Nike has done for Muslim athletes is a dream that we never thought would happen.”
In a statement to Nike, Ibtihaj, the New Jersey fencer who took home a bronze medal in Rio in 2016, explained that this innovation is so important because, until now, she would often compete and practice in a children’s hijab with a Georgette fabric covering.
“When the material is wet [with sweat], it gets really heavy,” she said. “It would completely obstruct my hearing” a disadvantage when trying to hear a referee or a coach’s instructions.
Figuring out how to keep the hijab in place was another struggle. Ibtihaj would have to tuck it into her sports bra to make it stay and use pins to keep it closed.
When she tried on the Nike hijab, “It really sunk in how much my previous hijab was hindering my performance,” Ibtihaj said. “Suddenly, I could hear, I wasn’t as hot, and it felt like my body was able to cool itself down better and faster.”
German boxer Zeina agrees: “I’m not distracted anymore because it sits better and is well adapted for sport.”
INTRODUCING THE NIKE PRO HIJAB 💪👊 Endlich ist der Bewundernswerte Nike pro Hijab raus! Ich bin so dankbar Teil dieser globalen Kampagne gewesen zu sein und ich fühle mich auch sehr geehrt. Ich danke dem gesamten Nike Team, für die tolle und schöne Erfahrung in London und natürlich für diese tollen Fotos!! @nikewomen #teamnike #nikeprohijab ❤
But the new garment is about more than just improving athletic conditions for these women. According to Ibtihaj, “[It] will help advance the conversation around hijabs and Muslim women in sports and further make sports an inclusive space.”
Available in early January on nike.com and in select stores across more than 20 countries, the Nike Pro Hijab will come in XS/S and M/L sizes. Colors will include obsidian, black, white, and vast gray.