About 24 hours after I published my latest piece, "If You Use Our Faces Maybe Stop Killing Our People?" on the problematic new trend of hijab-fast-fashion, Nike released their latest product of sweatshop labor: the Pro Hijab.

Clearly, I should start emailing out my writing to fast-fashion CEOs to cut the bullsh*t.

In my piece I dissect & call out the new, problematic trend of major Western brands using the hijab to be politically on-trend while continuing to exploit Muslim garment workers behind the scenes (and simultaneously flattening the identity of Muslim women into a single hijab). If you haven't already read it through (or listened to my conversation on Illinois Public Radio Wednesday morning discussing it--thanks again for having me, Abrar & Niala!) and want to quickly skim to catch up, we'll be right here when you get back!

Okay, ready to go?
Sure, while I'm happy that large, mainstream brands are working to become more accommodating towards Muslim women and offer a variety of clothing options (of course, when they're not just trying to tap into a growing billion-dollar hijab-fashion industry), I'll let you take a guess why I wasn't running around throwing my money at the new Nike Pro Hijab. While yes, part of the reason is that I am out of shape and haven't done anything physical for months (unless you count walking to my car or reaching for the ice cream on the top shelf of my freezer), more importantly it is because, decade after decade, Nike continues to use sweatshop labor in the production of its clothing. 
(They're also on our Boycott List, in case you missed it)
(Also side note: we just released an open call to join our new volunteer research team to keep the Boycott List updated and full of resources!)

Of course, as we mini-discussed on Twitter, the impact that a major clothing brand with immense reach and influence has on normalizing the image of Muslim women and challenging some of the stigmas associated with hijab, is not lost. Especially so when it comes to sports: while FIFA eventually did overturn its earlier hijab-ban regulation, FIBA continues to ban the hijab in basketball.

(p.s. read more about Bilqis Abdul-Qaadir & Indira Kaljo, two badass hijabi basketball players working to challenge FIBA's hijab ban) 

Indira Kaljo, Muslim athlete & activst fighting FIBA's Hijab Ban
But yet, things are more complicated than being able to label a politically-charged fashion item simply "good" or "bad." We should not simplify situations but rather work to unravel the layers of complexity in order to understand sites of possible harm.

If you want to talk about supporting Muslim women, why don't we start with where they are being harmed the most in this process: behind the closed doors of Nike's sweatshops. I'm sure the thousands of Muslim women exploited by Nike's production methods don't feel represented by or excited about the new Pro Hijab.

Of course, Nike's profit at the expense of communities of color isn't specific just to Muslims. Last month Nike was also under fire for trying to pull the same marketing scheme on Black consumers, using prominent Black athletes in a "diversity" video to whitewash their exploitation of Black workers throughout their production process.

But beyond everything I mentioned in my last, more thorough piece on this issue (see, you really need to read it), the release of the Pro Hjiab is harmful in one more way: it erases the fact that Muslims have been making modest sportswear for themselves for years. Nike is not the first one to do it, nor will they be the last. But, they will seriously harm the Muslim-owned sportswear designers who now have to compete with one of the largest brands in the world.

So, I'm going to take this time to share a few ethically-produced, Muslim-owned sportswear brands that know a thing or two about proper representation politics --
i.e., not exploiting Muslim women behind the scenes to profit from our "inclusion."

1. Veil Garments | Creators of the world's first climate-adapting hijab who have pledged to always be sweatshop free. All of their clothing is ethically sourced and produced in the United States!

A post shared by Veil (@veilhijab) on

2. Sukoon Active | While they haven't launched *just* yet, we appreciate their prioritization of sustainability so early in the game! (But you can still take a sneak peek of their upcoming collection!)

A post shared by Sukoon Active (@sukoonactive) on

3. Asiya Sport | Also a young and growing Muslim sportswear brand that we're excited about not only because they are dedicated to responsible production methods, but they also actively support women in sports (50% of their profits are donated to athletes in need)!

Oh and before you ask,

nike pro, hijab, ethical fashion, ethical muslim fashion, ethical hijab, ethical sportswear

We can demand higher standards for our inclusion and representation.
(Especially when it's mostly just profit-driven)

Cover image: Nike's new "Pro Hijab." Also, may I add, from a solely aesthetic point of view it's still not too exciting. ( Vivienne Balla/Nike)

Related Readings: 
+ Favorite Online Ethical Brands
+ 6 Brands You'll Love as Much as Zara

Also Published Today:

+ A Guide to Muslim Ban 2.0 / (published on Truthout)

Upcoming Posts: 
+ Iranian New Years/Nowruz Collaboration
+ On "Terrorism" - an Editorial

Upcoming Events: 
+ 3/14 | “Leading in the Face of Marginalization: Solidarity and Strategies for Success" panelist, Northeastern Illinois University, 4-7pm
+ 3/16 | "Refugees, Immigrants, & Polities Under Trump" panelist, Loyola University, 6-9pm
+ 4/3 | "Behind the Veil" speaker, Stockton University (NYC), 6-8:30pm

(NYC & California Tehran Streetstyle book tour April 1-22! Get in touch if you're in the area!) 

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