The sportswear giant Nike will soon be selling what they have dubbed the Nike Pro Hijab, a single-layer pullover (or pull-on) cap made of polyester fabric. According to CNN, the idea for the Pro Hijab came after athletes complained to the company about wearing the traditional head covering during athletic competitions.
All told, the design for the Nike Hijab took thirteen months. The item, which will mostly come in dark, neutral colors, will be available during the company’s Spring 2018 season.
The Nike Pro Hijab has already found one sponsor in the form of Emirati figure skater Zahra Lari. Lari had earlier been featured in a Nike ad highlighting Arab female athletes.
Although the ad was widely celebrated in the West and some corners of the Middle East, it did face criticism. Many Arab and Muslim women lambasted the company for showing women running in hijabs (a uncommon sight, apparently). Others criticized the advertisement for falsely presenting a sense of gender equality in the Middle East–a place where women do not often exercise outside and where women-only gyms are few and far between.
Back in 2015, ISIS actually declared a fatwa on the sneaker company, thus making making Nike’s position in the Middle East all the more complex.
Lest we not forget, Nike was once synonymous with sweatshops in Asia which employed impoverished men, women, and children for meagre wages. Although the company has made great strides to clean-up its act, the company found itself in hot water yet again in 2016 as part of a probe into business corruption in Kenya.
So, what do you think? Is this a genuinely “progressive” move, or just another attempt to cash-in using politics as a branding technique?
Featured image via: Hyperbae