The brouhaha and popularity of the “burkini” on French beaches this summer brought to light a changing attitude towards Muslim fashion for women. That, and the fact that Ibtihaj Muhammad became not just the first US woman to compete in a hijab but also to win a medal (bronze in fencing) while competing in the headwear, empowered many young Muslim girl athletes.
To address the desire and need for Muslim girls to compete in sports while wearing their traditional garb sparked a Somali immigrant and her Minnesota-born business partner to design a line of customized sportswear called “Asiya,” according to a story by Neal St. Anthony of the Star Tribune in Minneapolis.
“Our mission is to help more girls play sports,” said Fatimah Hussein, a social worker who has volunteered for years with East African girls, according to the story. “Girls who play sports are more confident and do better in school ... and [are] more ready to compete to a get a good job.”
Asiya, whose name comes from a historical Islamic woman who was wise and just, plans to make a line of comfortable sports hijabs which are good for basketball, volleyball and other sports without losing the modesty desired by the girls.
The company had a successful fashion show last year and it raised over $100,000 in working capital this fall through Kickstarter and the Minnesota Cup emerging-business competition. It plans to make its lightweight, sweat-wicking hijabs with a Minnesota contract manufacturer.
Co-founder Jamie Glover, 32, is a veteran corporate marketer who, along with Hussein, has put in hundreds of unpaid hours to make the company a reality.
“I wanted to find a way to spend my working time on something that can make a difference,” said Glover, a former volleyball player.
The first products, available through Asiyasport.com, will be several variations of sport hijabs, running between $30 to $40 apiece. They were designed by local Muslim girls and University of Minnesota design students.
If the sales take off, the company could expand to team-specific hijabs, in partnership with community leagues and high schools, and eventually into a line of “athleisurewear” for active Muslim women, including long-sleeve tunics and yoga pants with skirt attached, kind of a reflection of the activewear trend among American women.