When word broke earlier this year that Nike was soon to debut a hijab for athletes, many people took notice. The headscarf worn by Muslim women doesn’t translate very well for athletic endeavors due to its material construction (silk or cotton usually). It collects sweat and overall can be a cumbersome accessory (Nike’s hijab will be made from a lightweight polyester) for any sport-related activities.
When Nike released their plans last spring the immediate response was two-fold. One, it became media catnip for divisive rhetoric surrounding Islam and was made into a political marker for those who traverse in such absurdities. Second, track & field athletes were overjoyed and many of the narratives focused on that demographic. Basketball and soccer player stories started coming next as the reality of a headscarf chockfull of Nike technology began to take root.
With the hijab (officially it will be known as the Nike Pro Hijab) ready to drop at the start of 2018 other athletes are checking their calendars. That includes Manal Rostom, an Egyptian mountain climber who in 2014 became the first hijab-wearing woman to appear in a Nike commercial. She’s also an official Nike wear tester, so her commentary on the actual usability of the garment was and is taken seriously. For Rostom, it is a well-needed article of clothing and one she looks forward to utilizing.
Having already conquered Mt. Elbrus (Russia) and Mt. Kilimanjaro (Tanzania), she now has her sight set on the legendary Mt. Everest. An arduous task indeed, but one she seems ready to take on. In addition to mountain climbing, she is also a long distance runner and in 2016 completed the China Great Wall Marathon.
It will be interesting to see the narrative surrounding Nike when the hijab officially drops. Sure, it’s a smart market play, because you’re giving a consumer base something they both want and need (one can argue about the mandatory stature of hijabs in some Middle Eastern countries, but that doesn’t change the fact that it currently is still very popular). It also speaks to Nike’s understanding of diversity and international appeal. Nike isn’t a stranger to bold marketing campaigns, but will they go all out in the commercials and ads? We will find out soon enough.
While the Nike Pro Hijab will not hit retail until next year, the brand does have several fall/winter training gear available now to get you ready for the cold weather seasons. Click images below for more details.