Nike has for the first time turned its attention to the Islamic clothing market after creating a sports hijab designed for female athletes.
The pull-on headscarf has been constructed of light, stretchy fabric featuring tiny holes for breathability and an elongated back to ensure it does not become untucked. It will come in three colours: black, grey and obsidian and is expected to go on sale in 2018.
The US company chose Emirati figure skater and 2018 Winter Olympic hopeful, Zahra Lari, to unveil the product which has been in development for a year.
The 22 year-old Lari, who is the first Emirati skater to compete internationally, posted photos of herself wearing the hijab on her Instagram page with the caption: “Can’t believe this is finally here!!”
Speaking to Vogue Arabia, Lari said: “People may think or tell you that you can’t do certain things, but I’m going to show them you absolutely can. I am covered, I am Muslim, I am from a desert country, and I’m doing a winter sport.”
While Nike is the first of the major global sports brand to launch a headscarf line, smaller sports brands have already created Islamic clothing. Last year Danish brand Hummel partnered with the Afghan Football Federation to integrate hijabs into the women’s kits.
The U-17 Women’s World Cup last October in Jordan marked the first time Muslim players were allowed to wear headscarves while competing in a Fifa event. The international football governing body formally lifted its ban on head coverings in 2014.
Nike has upped its focus on the Middle east market, projected to be worth more than $5tr by 2020, in recent years with more stores opening in the region and the launch of its training app in Arabic.