In the Cultural Insight team at Kantar Added Value we like to keep a close eye on what Nike is doing. Despite being a highly commercialised and established brand, it takes on a disruptive role in culture by driving conversation around sport, health and wellbeing. The latest Nike disruption comes in the form of the Nike Pro Hijab (note the potential double meaning of ‘Pro’), a high-performance hijab designed for Muslim women athletes who cover their hair. As with all Nike products, the Hijab Collection is technically adept and has elevated a simple item of clothing to become an athletic asset. The move has unsurprisingly prompted a wide range of responses from excitement and praise to accusations of misogyny and dollar-chasing – The Guardian reports that the Islamic market is projected to be worth more than $5trillion by 2020.
Nike developed the product in collaboration with Muslim athletes with the overall objective of removing barriers for Muslim women in sport, following from the Nike definition, ‘if you have a body, you are an athlete’. It is uplifting to see this spirit of inclusivity extend into their product designs, especially at such a politically fractious time where women’s bodies, Islam and the intersection between the two, are under constant scrutiny, debate and attack.