Nike is clearly not shy about showing its support for athletes of all kinds --- evident in its Olympics campaign that featured a transgender duathlete Chris Mosier, and the 86-Year-Old "Iron Nun," -- to its more recent International Women's Day ads highlighting powerful females from Russia, Turkey and the Middle East. And now, it's giving backing to Muslim sportswomen with with the introduction of the Nike Pro Hijab.
According to a Nike statement the product has been in development for a year, but it's in line with the company's founding mission "to serve athletes, but with the signature addendum: If you have a body, you're an athlete."
The development of the garment was a multi-phase process. Nike collected input from top hijabi athletes such as weightlifter Amna Al Haddad, who last year starred in a film from Nike's "Inner Strength" online series. She noted how high-performance hijabs were hard to find, and that the weight, tendency to shift and lack of breathability of more traditional ones disrupted her focus during competition.
Such information went into the design team's first prototype, which was then tested with various hijabi athletes, who then gave their feedback for another round of prototyping. Nike then put this model to test with elite athletes including Emirai figure skater Zahra Lari and Nike+ Run Club Coach Manal Rostom as well as everyday athletes in the Middle East.
In later rounds of development, the Nike design team took into account cultural variances (each country has its own hijab style) as well as opinions of advocates in local communities to ensure the garment was culturally appropriate. The brand also adjusted the garment to accommodate a spectrum of face shapes and sizes.
The final product will be available early next year. It's made of a breathable, single layer of lightweight and stretchy Nike Pro power mesh with an elastic binding that lets athletes adjust fit to accommodate their respective sports. It comes in three colors: black, grey and obsidian. And perhaps the coolest part? Just above the athlete's left ear, it features a Nike Swoosh.