If there was one normcore trend that has reigned supreme and spilled into 2016 from last year, it would have to be athleisure; a multi-billion dollar industry, propelled by women who are opting for apparel with both functionality as well as style.
However, one demographic has been grossly ignored and that's the Muslim market. Working out is hard enough as it is, imagine not being able to find the right attire to wear while doing it.
Exercising in traditional hijabs and headscarves is often uncomfortable and can deter women from exercising. So one fitness enthusiast Arshiya Kherani thought to change that. The idea for Sukoon Active came to her after she ran her first half marathon.
Here's the Facebook status where it all started:
And when she couldn't find anything that fulfilled her need for a non-slippery, gym-friendly hijab, she decided to take matters into her own hands and did what any good millennial entrepreneur would: she turned to Kickstarter.
With the help of her friends, Shabbir Chaudhury and Anum Ahmed, Arshiya got the ball rolling; Anum is now the Business Development Lead at Sukoon.
She has since raised $12,660 (and counting!) while her original goal was $10,000.
That being said, Sukoon certainly isn't the first workout hijab line out there, but here's why it's better, according to Kherani: "The handful of modest activewear brands that exist outside of Sukoon define modesty through a specific lens and aesthetic and the reality is that there are so many women that don’t fit into that box."
"The world of Muslim and hijabi bloggers is flourishing with varying aesthetics and as a brand we want to be more inclusive of the way women cover, whether or not they wear hijab."
"That’s why our Signature Collection offers hijabs as well as short and long-sleeved shirts that women of any cultural or religious background can be comfortable in."
Over time, the New York-based innovator has learnt exactly what works and what doesn't through trial and error.
"I made our first prototype by cutting a Uniqlo Airism tank top in half and sewing it together in the middle. I was thinking that the material is so breathable that it would be perfect, but it was way too slippery on my hair. That helped me figure out what qualities to look for in fabrics I wanted to try."
"It also led me to think about how fabric and design could complement one another instead of just focusing on one part and then the other."
Expanding on their aesthetic, she adds, "We have always aimed to bring a modern aesthetic to our collection. We’ve researched everything from headbands to snapbacks to inspire our designs, and of course, we keep a close eye on Muslim bloggers for tips and tricks on scarf-wrapping techniques."
"I prefer to wear my hijab in tie-back style while I’m working out, but others don’t. We wanted to bring both sets of options to the market so that women could choose which better suits their needs and preferences."
Each design has been meticulously created by Arshiya, who incorporated input from family and friends.
"My mom and grandmother were instrumental in sewing some of our most ground-breaking prototypes, and then I started working with a patternmaker and seamstress here in NYC to fine-tune them," she shares.
"At this point, we’ve had nearly 20 women test both our hijabs and short and long-sleeved shirts during workouts that include running, yoga, spinning, hiking, kick-boxing etc. Through our focus groups, we’ve had positive and constructive feedback that have influenced the next iteration of each prototype."
Will we be seeing new additions to the existing line?
Arshiya reveals, "Absolutely! Once we get off the ground, we hope to introduce pants/leggings, accessories and swimwear into our line."