Global sportswear brands are increasingly releasing modest yet stylish and on trend women collections – supporting inclusiveness and diversity in fashion and sport.
The demand for modest clothing, items specifically designed to cover a woman’s modesty whilst remaining trendy as well as sports hijab collections continues to grow.
In fact, the use of an official sports hijab in international competitions goes back to July 2012 when the International Football Association Board (IFAB) overturned a 2007 ban which claimed that the hijab was “unsafe” for athletes as it could “increase” the risk of neck injuries.
IFAB explained – while overturning the ban – that there was nothing in “the medical literature concerning injuries as a result of wearing a headscarf.”
The sports hijab is secured in place with magnets and in case of getting pulled off, another cap remains underneath, to cover the athlete’s hair without causing any injuries.
At the London 2012 Olympics, Muslim athletes wearing the hijab received considerable media attention. Wearing the hijab set them apart from other sports figures. Since then, sports companies have grown interest to be in this business.
On International Women’s Day in 2016, Danish sportswear company Hummel was the first sportswear brand that included a hijab option as part of a team kit. The company – whose motto “Change The World Through Sport” – had released special kits for the Afghanistan women’s soccer team. The female kits included built-in hijabs as part of an effort to open up the sport to women and allow them to compete on an equal footing with international sides from across the world. The design incorporates Afghanistan’s heritage and traditions with the hijab forming part of a baselayer shirt which will allow women to be covered from head-to-toe.
“… if we want to create positive change for women in Afghanistan we have to meet them where they are. Many of these women have to or want to wear a hijab, and that’s why we have chosen to make a very cool and very fashionable sports hijab for these great girls of Afghanistan.” Hummel owner Christian Stadil said
At the 2016 Rio Olympics, the uniform of Sarah Attar – who has been the first female Saudi runner at the Olympics in 2012 – was designed by Oregon-based athletic apparel company Oiselle. The brand made a custom racing kit for Attar that would not only met the coverage requirements of the Saudi sports federation, but also would be functional to wear while running a marathon in Brazil.
About the uniform, it worked to provide both coverage and cooling. As such, the Saudi athlete wore Oiselle’s Roga Hat, which is made from a high-performance stretch woven that has its origins in the swim world — mostly for its quick-drying abilities. The head coverage was important, but so as the visor for keeping the sun off of her face.
The top Sarah’s top was made of a fabric, known as Polartec Delta, which contains small nodules on the inside that touch the body, yet in between these nodules, the surface of the fabric is raised away from the skin. This could allow sweat to move from the surface of Attar’s skin into the part of the fabric that isn’t touching. It would cool the athlete and provides her better evaporation.
The American sportswear brand Nike was way ahead of the curve when it released its first-ever hijab collection in December 2017. Nike aimed to inspire more women and girls in the world who could still face barriers and limited access to sport.
As such, Nike designers have been meeting with top athletes who highlighted the performance problems associated with wearing a traditional hijab for sport over the past couple of years. The women pointed out the desire for an even lighter, softer and more breathable garment. As a result, the talks put the designers to work to create a sports hijab prototype.
The brand launched in spring 2018 The Nike Pro Hijab collection, as the result of “an ongoing cultural shift that has seen more women than ever embracing sport,” Nike said in a statement. “This movement first permeated international consciousness in 2012, when a hijabi runner took the global stage in London.”
The collection aimed to create a lightweight hijab that was “inconspicuous, almost like a second skin,” the company said.
It is made from durable, lightweight fabric that provides “optimal breathability” with a soft touch. The pull-on design and long back both ensure a personalised fit that “that wicks away sweat, and stays tucked in during any workout or competition.”
Lesser-known, sports hijab companies
Meanwhile, smaller companies, often led by women, have also designed and released sport hijab collections for decades.
For instance, Capsters started in 2001 and has been selling sports hijabs across the world, and allowing more Muslim girls and women to take part in sports more comfortably.
A scarf design from Canadian company ResportOn was one of the reasons that made the International Taekwondo Federation allow Muslim women to compete in recognized tournaments.
Both Capster and ResportOn offered prototypes to the IFAB that overturned Fifa’s hijab ban in 2012. These companies carved out a space for Muslim women when their participation was challenged.