Nike enters the Muslim Swimwear Market

Nike has created a full-body swimsuit for the Muslim swimwear market. The swimsuit is sold in two versions: one that has separate leggings, tunic, and hijab and the other combines the three. These modest swimwear designs are the start of the Victory collection of modest swimwear and were released on February 2, 2020.

Muslim women have a difficult time finding appropriate clothing to swim in, thus many women choose only to swim in times and places set aside for women or do not swim at all. Swimsuits are often cobbled together from a variety of clothing to cover all body parts appropriately. This results in a heavy suit that takes on water, making it heavier and difficult or even dangerous to swim in. Plus, it is very difficult to find a hijab that does not come off in the water.

Nike designers worked with their Muslim customers at various stages. The designers first created a bodysuit as they made for Serena Williams. That was deemed too body-hugging. The team went back to the design table and returned with body-skimming pants and a tunic top. To this looser suit, they added a hijab with a built-in pocket to hold the hair. This hijab is designed to stay put in water. They then included a sports-bra in the top to provide the necessary support. The suit has an iridescent lining, marking it as a beautiful and fun item in addition to a utilitarian item.

The fabric of the full-body swimsuit is 70% nylon, which resists water, and 30% spandex providing stretch in all four directions. When the swimmer emerges from the water, the suit sheds water immediately without being wrung out. The suit is lightweight both in and out of the water, allowing the swimmer to move freely. It maintains its form without clinging to the body even when wet.

 

Other innovations to the suit include gill-like mesh at strategic locations, so water can flow through the suit instead of being trapped inside and slowing down the swimmer. The shoulders are designed to support a full range of swimming motion. The arms and legs have straps that keep them from riding up during diving or active swimming.

Their goal is to access a large and under-served consumer audience, the Muslim swimwear market. Currently, that market is very small because most Muslim women put aside swimming when they leave girlhood. However, that market is potentially very large. Nike also hopes to expand that market by encouraging more women to swim, since they now have appropriate attire. The full-body coverage may appeal to other markets, including people with strong sun sensitivities as the cloth has a 40+ SPF rating all over. The coverage may appeal to conservative Jewish women or other women with modesty restrictions on clothing.

The modest swimsuit is aimed at getting regular women swimming. Its innovations are aimed around that. The suit will not yet compete with Olympic high-performance swimwear. It is, however, being used in cross-training regimes for elite athletes in other sports. This product is generating excitement in its early days.