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Nike plans to launch a new line of sports hijab wear for Muslim female athletes early next year, becoming the first major sports apparel maker to offer a traditional Islamic head scarf designed specifically for competition.

Marketed under the “Nike Pro Hijab”, the head cover is a single-layer pull-on design made from lightweight polyester in dark, neutral colours. It is designed to allow athletes to be heedful of the traditional Islamic practice of covering the head without affecting their performance.

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Sporting hijabs have been around for several years, but Nike is the first major international company to embrace the sports needs of Muslim women.

“The Nike Pro Hijab may have been more than a year in the making, but its impetus can be traced much further back, to an ongoing cultural shift that has seen more women than ever embracing sport,” Nike said in a statement.

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Other smaller sporting brands such as Capsters and ResportOn have previously been seen as leading brands of sporting hijabs.

Nike started developing the hijab after some Muslim athletes complained about wearing a traditional head scarf during competition.

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The Pro Hijab is the result of a year-long collaborative process between Nike and top female Muslim athletes, such as weightlifter Amna Al Haddad and figure skater Zahra Lari.

“I was thrilled and a bit emotional to see Nike prototyping a Hijab,” Lari said in a statement obtained by CNN.

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“I’ve tried so many different hijabs for performance, and … so few of them actually work for me. But once I put it on and took it for a spin on the ice, I was blown away by the fit and the light weight,” she continued.

The hijab will be available in three initial colours, black, grey and obsidian and will be available in the market in early 2018.