For Muslim women looking for appropriate sportswear for at the pool or on the playing field, there are more choices than ever. Sadiyya Ali, one of the founders of Bahiya Collections, an online retailer of Islamic fashion based in Toronto, started carrying sportswear because she was looking for a swimsuit she could wear to the beach. She says younger Muslim women are driving the trend. ‘They’re concerned about their health and body image.’
Her company now sells a sports headscarf, an athletic top and full-length swimsuits. The suits, made by a U.S.-based company called Alsharifa, are also popular with non-Muslim women, says founder and CEO Kelly Alsharif. Women are covering up with the company’s trademarked ‘Veilkinis’ not only for religious reasons, she says, but also to hide a full figure or for sun protection. And although the company is based in Michigan, she says most of its North American orders come from the Toronto area.
Elham Seyed Javad is the 29-year-old designer behind ResportOn, a sports headscarf line manufactured in Montreal. She was a student when, in 2007, five hijab-wearing young women were banned from a tae kwon do competition in Quebec due to safety concerns. ‘Sports have been a very big part of my life since I was young. For me to see girls of any background banned just wasn’t acceptable.’
Women from Canada to Japan are wearing ResportOn; it made its Olympic debut this year on Sarah Attar, who competed for Saudi Arabia in the 800-metre track-and-field heats. But it’s soccer that will introduce ResportOn to the masses: A model for professional play that Seyed Javad developed in collaboration with soccer’s world governing body, FIFA, was approved last fall. We may well see it on the field when Canada hosts the Women’s World Cup of soccer in 2015. You go, girls!
The ResportOn headscarf (above right) is made of CoolMax, a lightweight moisture-wicking fabric that promises to dry 14 times faster than cotton. It is available in a variety of sizes. ($60, resporton.com)
Alsharifa Swimwear is available in five styles, including the Laguna (above left; $110’$120, bahiyacollections.com).