Last year, New Jersey native Ibtihaj Muhammad became the first American woman to compete at the Olympic Games wearing a hijab. While the fencer ultimately won a bronze medal for Team USA, her road to the Olympics was hardly easy—in large part because of her headwear, which made it difficult for her to hear the referee. That could all change with the just-released Nike Pro Hijab.
While Nike isn’t the first company to design an athletic-specific hijab, it is the first major brand to do so. And according to Muhammad, it offers a substantial upgrade for competing. “Suddenly, I could hear, I wasn’t as hot, and it felt like my body was able to cool itself down better and faster,” Muhammad said after trying the hijab in August.
Before this recent innovation, Muhammad was often carded for false starts—not because she didn’t understand the rules of her sport, but because the children’s hijab she wore “would completely obstruct my hearing,” the Nike-sponsored athlete said in a press release this week.
“It’s a reminder to us Muslim women that we can achieve anything in the world.” —Zahra Lari, Emrati figure skater
Available in two sizes (XS/S and M/L) and two color options (black and obsidian, with white and gray coming in January), the Nike hijab retails for $35. It’s constructed with what Nike calls “power mesh,” a lightweight fabric that features “strategically placed holes for optimal breathability,” which may be the material that allows for increased hearing for the wearer. And naturally, there’s a signature swoosh just above the left ear.
Nike’s campaign for the hijab, which launched this week, features Muhammad, Emirati figure skater Zahra Lari, German boxer Zeina Nassar, and Emirati weightlifter Amna Al Haddad. Lari said the hijab offers functionality, practicality, and empowerment. “It’s a reminder to us Muslim women that we can achieve anything in the world,” she said.
And, ultimately, shouldn’t all workout warriors be afforded the empowering tools to conquer their sport of choice?