This week we have read articles on how Nike, one of the world’s leading sports brand, is targeting Muslim (hijab wearing) sportswomen. Nike launched Pro Hijab, a hijab in breathable fabric developed in collaboration with Muslim athletes such as Olympic weightlifter Amna Al Haddad and figure skater Zahra Lari from the United Arab Emirates. This coincides with Nike's release of the video "What will they say about you?" that aims to capture the interest of the Middle Eastern market. We applaud Nike for collaborating with Muslim female athletes and finally becoming interested in ways to include a new customer group. This is part of larger trend of brands seeking to push norm-breaking stories that inspire. This is also part of another trend, that is the one of global western brands seeking ways to grow either in the Middle Eastern market or the global Islamic fashion market by tapping into the buzz that is generated when a woman in Hijab becomes the front face. The positive news is that Nike is in the position to bring its Pro Hijab product to any store they want and this accessibility is positive for Muslim sportswomen who wear hijab. There is still much more left to be done in the Muslim activewear industry including design, product innovation and branding. This could be the start of something big and we will perhaps see global brands like Adidas or even H&M Sports create activewear that is more inclusive.
"The story of Muslim women as innovators shouldn’t be forgotten."
On the down side, however, some news reports on Nike's Pro Hijab have insinuated Nike being first to bring such product and how Muslim women can finally thanks to Nike become more active. We always work to highlight the change-makers and trailblazers in our Jemmila Leaders series and also in our blog posts. For that reason I am writing this piece to remind that there are innovators (pre Nike) behind brands such as Friniggi, Anah Maria Active, Capsters, ResportOn , Asiya, Sukoon Active and more. Many of these brands have been founded by Muslim women who either experienced the need themselves or saw someone close to them needing it. The story of Muslim women as innovators shouldn't be forgotten. The founders of these sports brand have taken upon themselves the mission to enable and increase the participation of Muslim women in sports. We find this empowering and inspiring.
We shouldn’t forget the true pioneers and shouldn’t consider Muslim women only as consumers who wait for a global brand to bring them the solution. This narrative is being driven each time a global western brand decides to include a woman wearing hijab in their ads. We should properly recognize the innovators. This is an important part of the narrative and one we will continue to push for.
Let us know what you think!
Founder & Creative Director of Jemmila
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