In celebration of International women’s day, I invited my best mate Tiana Bayemani (British born Muslim woman) to guest write on my blog. Please read as she expresses her views on Nike’s Pro Hijab releases.
*passes the figurative pen to T*
Yesterday we saw the release of Nike’s first sports hijab hit the market, it is the first of it’s kind within major sports brands and has received wide publicity about it.
The topic I want to discuss is not so much around the hijab itself but more about what it means for a multinational super brand like Nike to endorse a religious article of faith.
Has Nike made a political statement with it’s latest release?
Mixing business with politics has always been a major taboo- we are taught that getting involved with the political actions of states is bad for business and can jeopardise your customer base.
Taking into consideration the current position President Donald Trump has taken with the Muslim ban, Nike, a profoundly American brand has taken upon itself to release a sports hijab which has been designed with the help of Muslim hijab wearing athletes- specifically at this point in history. Is this relevant, I would argue yes.
Figure Skater Zahra Lari for Nike Pro Hijab. Courtesy of Nike
This profound move can be viewed as a creative display of solidarity with Muslims. We can analyse this from a basic perspective of what does the hijab mean and what does having a sports hijab mean, but I feel these are played out arguments- sports hijabs have been around for a long time, its hardly innovative but what is interesting is the company which has decided to market this product and the timing that they have released it in. In an environment which is increasingly becoming hostile towards Muslims (women in particular), it brings the topic of hijab and its place in our society into public space and mainstream western discourse. How can you deny an article of clothing that hangs boldly in one of the biggest stores in Oxford street? It has taken the hijab out of the marginalised corners of ‘American-ness’ and placed it in the spotlight. You are here- and we cater for you.
Nike+ Run Club Coach Manal Rostom for Nike Pro Hijab. Courtesy of Nike
This might be a part of a larger retaliation of what I would call ‘consumer warfare’. British brand Debenhams has also recently launched its first modest clothing range despite a lot of negative news reporting from right wing media. While they may be seen as capitalising on an oppression of a marginalised group of people- no doubt there is another message that can be taken from it.
It won’t change the fact that many sisters like me would still go to whitechapel to buy a 3 for £10 hijabs from the Bengali uncles in their stalls but what Nike does do, is tell me we are thinking of you and you matter. Representation like all things is not about identifying completely with what is presented but knowing that the option is there. Not all acts of political engagement have to be outright condemnation with placards marching in the streets, sometimes it can be in the form of inclusion and the outright rejection of hate.
Thanks for reading 🙂
Images – Vogue