Nike champions inclusivity with new modest swimwear collection

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Too often female athletes have said swimwear presents a barrier to enjoying the water. This range is here to change that. 

Nike will launch its Victory Swim collection in February 2020, a swimwear collection that answers the striking gap of modest swimwear needed for female athletes in water sports.

Inspiration for the collection began with athletes’ passionate responses to the Pro Hijab and Nike designers’ determination to continue innovating and championing athletes of all backgrounds, body types, abilities and aspirations.

Nouf Alosaimi, Saudi Arabia’s first female technical diver, says she hopes it will bring more women into water-based activities. 

“Most of the girls I meet are reluctant to swim or scuba dive because of their modesty preferences and they find it difficult finding the right modest solution. Now I can invite more girls into diving and swimming and they can enjoy the sport without concerns.”  

Of course, Nike isn’t the first company to make modest swimwear. Australian fashion designer Aheda Zanetti famously created the burkini. Writing about it in The Guardian in 2016, she said: “When I invented the burkini in early 2004, it was to give women freedom, not to take it away.

“My niece wanted to play netball but it was a bit of a struggle to get her in the team – she was wearing a hijab. My sister had to fight for her daughter to play, had to debate the issue and ask, why is this girl prevented from playing netball because of her modesty?”

The burkini has had its share of controversy - you can read more about Zanetti’s powerful essay here - but could Nike’s second step into modest swimwear could see diverse sportwear step successfully further into the mainstream? 

The new Nike collection is made with warp-knit fabric, which is lightweight, breathable and quick-drying. The innovative head-to-toe UPF 40+ rating offers additional benefits for athletes seeking sun protection.

“The more we listened, the more possibility we saw to serve female athletes in new dimensions,” says Martha Moore, Nike Creative Director, VP. “As we continue broadening our vision for innovation, we’re excited to inspire more women to see themselves in sport by thinking creatively and designing inclusively. To us, Nike Victory Swim Collection shows the power of innovation to invite all women to discover the joy of sport.”

And designers continue to draw inspiration from athletes such as Emirati figure skater Zahra Lari, the first in her sport to don the hijab in competition. 

Off the ice, she swims regularly for supplemental aerobic training and recovery sessions: “It’s so different than any of the swimsuits I’ve ever seen, and I know I can wear this confidently.”

Here’s to seeing more inclusivity on our highstreets. 

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Image: Nike

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