PORTLAND, Ore. -- This week Nike announced it has created its first ever hijab designed for athletes. This is the first time Nike has produced a hijab and developers say their hope is to make it easier for women and girls to access sports.
It’s called the Nike Pro Performance Hijab. If you’re unfamiliar with a hijab, it’s a head covering that some Muslim women wear as part of their faith.
Rehana Malik started wearing one in 2008. Like any other woman leading an active lifestyle, she runs half marathons and regularly goes to the gym. But for her, working out means adjusting her wardrobe to keep with her Muslim faith.
“We have a modest dress code. We have to make sure our head and our hair is covered and our body is fully covered,” said Malik.
For years she couldn't find a product that fit her needs. So she took things into her own hands and designed a mix between a hat and a hijab.
“I wear it to Pilates class. I wear it to my training class, spinning class. I just wear it everywhere,” Malik said.
Malik was excited to hear the news that Nike has come out with its own hijab.
“I think it's fantastic that they've come up with a product which meets the needs of Muslim athletes. It's a well-needed product,” she said.
It all started when Olympic weightlifter Amna Al Hadaad, from the United Arab Emirates, visited the Nike campus last year and shared her concerns.
“In particular, one thing that really resonated that she kept bringing up over, and over again is her need for a performance hijab. Something that was lightweight, breathable and for sport,” said Sara Blasing, the Senior Director of Nike Women’s Category Communications. “This is one of our most breathable and lightweight fabrics that we have."
Blasing said the Nike swoosh on the side of the hijab was a specific request from Muslim women athletes they spoke with.
“Our athletes really wanted to have the swoosh placed on the exterior of this garment because they wanted to signify it was a performance piece of apparel, something they would be using for competition or sport,” said Blasing.
Hijabs meant for sports have been developed before. But Malik says the fact that Nike developed this product is big deal.
“It's going to have massive international appeal now. I can already see my Facebook status flooded with this Nike hijab cap,” Malik said.
She said Nike may be paving the way for other products, maybe even her own prototype to hit the market.
“Who knows, we're going to be a big hijab market,” said Malik, who is now thinking about getting a patent for the product she made herself.
In addition, she said with Nike’s new product, may come more understanding of Muslim women. She said she’s had safety concerns.
“I felt to minimize a hate crime or a hate comment that I would feel more comfortable wearing a cap and blending in with the rest of the people who are working out at the gym,” she said about her own prototype.
Malik said that while she loves that Nike has developed a hijab, she hopes the company looks into creating other products Muslim women athletes can wear that include modest clothing that covers the arms and loose trousers that are workout friendly.
The Nike Pro Performance Hijab is expected to hit store shelves by next spring. It'll cost about $35 and come in three colors, black, gray and navy blue.