This week, Sports Illustrated released its Fashionable 50 list, a feature that highlights 50 of the industry’s most stylish athletes. In addition to the rankings, Sports Illustrated’s fashion experts selected 20 style stand-outs for specific titles, such as “The Statement Maker” (Conor McGregor) and “The Confidence Award” (Lindsey Vonn). One of the most meaningful awards, though, was “The Difference Maker,” which went to U.S. Olympic fencer Ibtihaj Muhammad.
As a young Muslim-American, Muhammad found it difficult to participate in sports while growing up because of the often revealing uniforms. The fencing uniform, however, allowed her participate in athletic activities while maintaining her modesty for her Muslim faith.
As the first American Olympian to compete in a hijab, a veil worn by many Muslim women to retain privacy and respect, Muhammad’s participation in the 2016 Rio Olympics has contributed to the conversation about Muslim-Americans in sport.
With her platform and visibility, Muhammad’s presence has strengthened inclusive initiatives in the athletic gear industry, including the making of the Nike Pro Hijab, which is set to be released next year.
Before her international Olympic fame, however, Mohammad recognized the need for stylish clothing for Muslim women. In 2014, she established Louella, a company that creates and sells modest yet fashionable clothing for the modern woman.
Muhammad told Sports Illustrated: “As a clothing designer, I’m always thinking: Who is the Louella dress for? And I think of myself, as a millennial, as someone who wants to be on trend with what I’m wearing. I also want to express myself and present myself in the best way. When we feel good, we look our best and we present ourselves in the best manner. I think now more than ever athletes are expressing themselves with what they wear.”
In addition to being an Olympian, serving as one of TIME’s 2016 100 most influential people and as an ambassador for the U.S. Department of State’s Empowering Women and Girls Through Sport Initiative has given Muhammad an opportunity to share her personal style.
Whether you take a modest approach to fashion or are more bold with your style choices, anyone can take cues from the fencer to create a Muhammad-inspired look.
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