Splashgear has been mentioned in other publications (highlighted in bold print within text of each article):
Muslim Women Remove Barriers to Exercise
By J. Samia Mair
September 16, 2008 / Ramadan 16, 1429
"I've set my best times wearing the hijab," said champion runner Roqaya Al-Gassra from Bahrain at the 2006 Asian Games in Doha, Qatar, where she won a gold medal in the women's 200m and a bronze metal in the 100m (International Herald Tribune).
At the 2004 Olympics in Athens, Al-Gassra became the first athlete to wear a hijab during an Olympic competition. This summer, she entered the 2008 Olympics in Beijing ranked 7th in the world. As her country's flag-bearer, Al-Gassra distinguished herself by winning her heats in the first two rounds of the 200m and ranking 11th in the semifinals (Mail Online; Athlete Biography: Al-Gassra Roqaya).
She attributes part of her success to wearing the "Hijood" (hijab and hood combined) Sports Top, which was custom made for her by Ahiida, an Australian company that specializes in modest swimwear.
Advent of Modest Sportswear
Indeed, many companies are recognizing the increasing worldwide demand for modest exercise clothing.
On the other side of the world, California-based Splashgear offers a different style of swimwear than its Australian competitor. The pants are made out of a light, very quick drying fabric that surfers wear and which are designed not to creep up the legs in the water.
Founder Shereen Sabet described herself to IslamOnline.net (IOL) as a Muslim who "grew up secularly but began practicing my Islam in adulthood." She wondered how she could still enjoy water activities as a devout, modestly-dressed, Muslim woman.
She began her quest for proper Islamic water attire, which ultimately resulted in developing her own line of swimwear. Most of her customers are Muslim, but as it turns out, her product also is popular with conservative Christians and Jewish women, older women, women with sun sensitivity, and women with physical traits that they want to cover.
I [the reporter] wear a Splashgear swimsuit and have received lots of positive feedback from non-Muslims, who nearly always assume that I am avoiding the sun for health reasons.
Several other companies offer modest swimwear as well, including Acquagym, Hasema, Primo Moda, and Sajeda to name a few. Indeed, modest swimwear's popularity is increasing to the point where it is now being offered alongside traditional, more revealing swimsuits (swimoutlet.com). In today's market, finding modest swimwear should no longer be a barrier to water activities. ...
J. Samia Mair is an Associate Editor for the journal Biosecurity and Bioterrorism: Biodefense Strategy, Practice, and Science, Mary Ann Liebert, Inc. and Co-Editor of Highlights & Happenings in the same journal. She has a Master of Public Health (May 2000) from The Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health-Baltimore, MD and received a Juris Doctor, cum laude (May 1990) from The University of Pennsylvania Law School-Philadelphia, PA.
More than just a fashion on display at a UC Irvine event
Exposing the displaced people in the war zones of Darfur was important
By Tanya Obermeyer
Volume 86, Issue 43
April 22, 2008
Models strutted the runway on Sunday showing off Muslim-inspired fashions to a room full of women supporting a less than glamorous cause: the crisis in Darfur, Sudan.
The devasting war zone of Darfur embellished with poverty and displacement brought inspiration to Mariam Moustafa, the founder and co-organizer of the "Fashion Fighting Famine: Darfur" fundraiser event.
According to the Islamic Relief USA Web site, "Two million people have been driven from their villages because of fighting that began two years ago in Sudan's troubled Darfur region ... Most of those who fled their villages are farmers ..."
It was hosted by the Islamic Relief Fund in coordination with the Muslim Student Union and was located in the Pacific Ballroom in the Student Center at UC Irvine.
A rectangular room large enough to hold 782 people was more than half-full with women, mostly Muslim, all eager to view the fashion show scheduled for the evening.
"Anytime that you get 400-500 women together for the sake of a good cause such as Darfur, [it] is considered to be a success," Moustafa said.
The organizers hustled to start the show.
"Cooperation made it all possible," co-organizer Jeanann Khalife said.
A long, narrow, black runway extended from the stage and was set up nearly two feet from the floor. It was the focus of the room.
The event scheduled for 5:15 p.m. kicked off at 5:50 p.m. with a video educating the audience on the destruction in Darfur.
Following the video was a choreographed dance performance that depicted the region's poverty and tragedy.
Twenty minutes later, the first models, featuring looks by designer Artizara, took to the runway.
The line was centered on tunics garnished with metallics, stripes and floral patterns focused on fusing a mainstream image while observing the constraints of traditional Muslim attire.
Two promoters served as hosts for the show and entered between designers to briefly introduce the line.
Trey Q, a line that appealed to the younger and fashion-forward audience, received an overwhelming response from the crowd as fierce models walked with authority in the silk-screened tees, zip-up hoodies and skinny jeans.
Trey Q draws a striking connection to pop culture brands such as Billionaire Boys Club or Ice Cream clothing. Models from the line completed their walk by tossing hats to the audience as they exited the runway.
Bushra Shukairy, a 16-year-old attendee, named Trey Q as her line of choice.
"I saw a couple of shirts I really liked from Trey Q, and I like Splashgear too for the beach," she said.
The next line of models walked with seemingly appropriate beach balls and surfboards, drawing on the theme of beachwear appropriate for the Islamic women.
Splashgear is a line that is made of nylon and lycra fabrics, and features long sleeves and ankle-length capri pants. The clothing was styled with Hawaiian flowers and summer color patterns.
The night progressed with optional prayer ceremonies and an intermission for attendees providing food and beverage.
The intermission was also a time for the women to mingle amongst each other and enjoy the several vendors lining the sides of the room.
Muslim Swimwear Eases Australian Divide, Makes Waves in Market
By Shanthy Nambiar and Shamim Adam
April 20, 2007
The Sydney designer's two-piece, head-to-toe bathing suit, dubbed the burqini, was adopted by Australia's new Muslim lifeguards this year. The women volunteered to help watch over Sydney beachgoers after race riots during the 2005 southern summer strained community ties.
"I found a hole in the market," said Zanetti, 39, a Lebanese-born mother of four, adding that she has sold 5,000 of the hooded, water-resistant outfits worldwide. "We aimed for the Muslim girl."
The burqini, a linguistic marriage of burqa and bikini, is helping kindle interest in lightweight sportswear that lets Muslim women remain modest while being competitive. The spending power of 650 million women who practice Islam is largely untapped by the $235 billion-a-year global sporting goods industry.
"The market in countries like Indonesia, Malaysia, Pakistan and some North African countries is certainly ripe to explode," said Andre Gorgemans, secretary general of the World Federation of the Sporting Goods Industry in Lausanne, Switzerland, whose members include Nike Inc. and Speedo International Ltd.
Smaller companies such as Zanetti's Ahiida Ltd. and Shereen Sabet's Splashgear LLC in Huntington Beach, California, may have to lead the way, said Rimla Akhtar, chairwoman of the Muslim Women's Sport Foundation in Harrow, England.
"You've got to get more Muslim women into sports and competing at a higher level before you can have the big sportswear companies coming in to play," said Rimla, who captained the U.K.'s five-a-side soccer team at the International Islamic Women's Games in Iran in 2005.
World soccer authorities last month made achieving that goal harder. The Zurich-based Federation Internationale de Football Association banned headscarves for safety reasons.
The ruling came after an 11-year-old Muslim girl was ejected from a tournament near Montreal for wearing a headscarf.
Some women have few options. Iran, for example, is among a handful of Muslim-majority countries with female dress codes.
In public, Iranian women must cover their bodies and hair. They may wear a chador, a single piece of fabric falling from head to toe, or don headscarves and loose-fitting coats. Chadors don't cover the face like burqas.
Innovations such as the burqini offer new opportunities for Muslim women, said Faezeh Hashemi Rafsanjani, founder of the Iranian Women Sports Federation and daughter of former President Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani.
The burqini is a "positive step and each country and group can adapt it to its own specificities," Faezeh said in a faxed response to questions.
For Splashgear owner Sabet, designing modest swimwear followed her decision six years ago to wear a headscarf.
"I faced a personal obstacle and I was trying to find a solution," said Sabet, 36, a scuba diver attending California State University, Long Beach. "I placed ads in local papers and word of mouth spread, and on the very first day, I had orders coming in."
The Egyptian-born Sabet sells about 12 outfits a month, mainly through the Internet, she said.
Nike, the world's largest athletic-shoe maker, and Speedo, the biggest swimwear maker, also are in the Muslim women's market.
Beaverton, Oregon-based Nike sponsors Bahraini runner Ruqaya al-Ghasara, who in December won a gold medal in the 200 meters at the Asian Games in Doha, Qatar. She wore track pants, a long- sleeved top and a headscarf with Nike's swoosh logo.
London-based Pentland Brands Plc, which makes Speedo swimwear, gave full-cover suits to Pakistan's female swimmers at the 2002 Commonwealth Games in Manchester, England, vice president Dave Robinson said.
"Previously, their religious beliefs, combined with the suits available on the market, would have precluded this," he said.
Zanetti, who moved to Australia when she was 2, also wears a headscarf. Her polyester-and-spandex burqini won a public face this year: 20-year-old lifeguard Mecca Laalaa.
"You can't exactly swim in cotton pants and top," said Laalaa, a Lebanese-Australian student who wears a headscarf.
She qualified as a lifeguard in February after enrolling in a government-sponsored program that encourages members of ethnic communities to join the 115,000 mostly Caucasian volunteers patrolling beaches.
Australia saw one of its worst instances of racial violence in December 2005, when a 5,000-strong mob attacked Middle Eastern-looking people on Sydney's southern beaches. The riot followed the bashing of two teenage lifeguards, allegedly by Lebanese-Australian men.
Among Australia's 21 million residents, the number identifying themselves as Muslims jumped 40 percent to 282,000 in the five years through 2001, the latest census figures show.
"In the past, a bronzed Aussie surf lifesaver has been one of those iconic images," said Sean O'Connell, communications manager of Surf Life Saving Australia, which trains volunteer lifeguards. "The burqini is quite revolutionary because it allows for our members to fulfill patrolling obligations and religious requirements."
While demand for the burqini has Zanetti struggling to fill orders, she said she is aiming to clothe Olympic athletes.
"We offer something for the girl next door to the extremely modest mom and getting to the top athlete," she said. "It has taken a little girl from Sydney to think of this humungous segment.
BeliefWatch: Surf's Up!
By Lisa Miller
Jan. 29, 2007
There is at least one moment in every religious person's life where commitment to faith collides, inconveniently, with desire. For Zeena Altalib, that moment occurred last year at the local swimming pool. An American Muslim of Iraqi descent, Altalib wanted to take her baby son, Yusif, for a swim. But what to do about the fact that her religion requires her to wear hijab, to cover herself from head to toe? A commercially available swimsuit was out of the question—not modest enough—but the makeshift options available to her were, as she puts it, "yucky." Tights and a long T shirt? Yuck. Some kind of lightweight tracksuit? Yuckier. So Altahib decided to take matters into her own hands. Today the swimsuit she designed is available online through her company, Primo Moda. It's a strikingly unsexy two-piece: a neck-to-ankle Lycra body stocking with a loose vest that goes on top. After years of swimming in her clothes, donning an actual swimsuit, says Altalib, "was an amazing feeling."
American Muslims, especially those in the second generation, say they live in two worlds—the traditional, religious world of their parents and the world of the rest of us. And the success of Primo Moda (Altalib says she's sold thousands of suits over the past year) is proof that they like it that way. Profoundly unrevealing swimsuits can be found online through a surprising number of companies. One, called Splashgear, based in Huntington Beach, Calif., has a slogan that might raise eyebrows: "Now go get wet!" Another—one that's generating a lot of buzz, if you can say that of a company that sells full-body bathing suits—is an Australian outfit called Ahiida. Its hooded "Burqini" is available in both slim-fit and modest-fit styles. For Muslim women who prefer winter sports, there's Capster, a Dutch company that makes fleecy, tight-fitting head coverings for skiers and ice skaters.
Just as Muslims are changing the face of America, American values and customs are changing them. Last year Suzanne Brahmia, who works at Rutgers University, started women-only swim nights at one of the university pools. About 60 women of all ages, including novice swimmers, now regularly attend. The ones who have bathing suits wear them; others wear shorts and T shirts. The modesty, explains Brahmia, is in the single-sex community, the female lifeguards and the paper that covers the windows. Brahmia, a convert who grew up Roman Catholic, a swimmer and a soccer player, believes that swimming is a life skill. She wears a regular tank suit.
© 2007 Newsweek, Inc.
Uni Watch: Year in review
By Paul Lukas
ESPN Page 2
December 26, 2006
Last week's column about Ruqaya Al Ghasara's Nike-branded hijab prompted many thoughtful responses. Here's a sampling:
• From T. D.: "As a Muslim, I have no problem with Al-Ghasara wearing a hijab with a Nike swoosh on it. I know you sounded playful when you said, "nothing says tradition like a sportswear logo," but wanted to point out that the way Islam approaches the issue of hijab (and I'm giving you the moderate approach taken by the majority of hijab-wearers in developed countries) is that as long as the hair and neck are covered, the actual type of hijab doesn't really matter. If you're in Los Angeles, you might see a Muslim woman wearing a Burberry scarf as a hijab; in Turkey, you might see a different style. The fact that one may have a Nike logo versus a Burberry style or Made in Turkey logo on it shouldn't have any bearing on religiosity. I believe that's what she meant when she said tradition was important. Not the details, just the fact that even if it's a hundred degrees outside and sunny, it's important for her to cover herself the Islamic way."
• From Jeremy Segall: "Yarmulkes have been adorned with various team or athletic logos for quite some time now. My parents went to Michigan, I grew up a die-hard Wolverine fan, so an aunt gave me an "M" kippa for Chanukah one year (I still have it and often wear it on days Michigan plays). I currently live in Chicago, and see Cubs, Sox and Bears kippas on a regular basis -- usually on children, but after the White Sox won the World Series, plenty of adults wore them, as well."
• And from Shereen Sabet (who runs this swimwear brand): "I'm hoping Muslim women and girls will also be inspired to practice competitive swimming, and I plan, God willing, to add a competitive line of modest swimwear to my current recreational line."
Designers Make a Splash with Modest Swimwear
By Nicole Bovey
Our Rising Star
July 15, 2006
As the weather heats up this summer, Muslims around the globe look forward to cooling off with their families near seas, lakes, rivers and artificial swimming pools. But, wait a minute. Can a Muslim woman enjoy the pleasures of the water while still maintaining her modesty?
Understanding the Rules of Awrah
Before answering this question, it is necessary to take at least three factors into consideration: location, who else is present, and swimwear. According to Sheikh Abdus Salam Al-Basuni, information officer and Shari’ah (Islamic law) guide for the Qatar Centre for the Presentation of Islam, it is never okay for a woman to swim in the presence of men who are not mahrem (prohibited in marriage) to her.
Regarding swimwear, he says that one must cover at least the area from the navel to the knee in the presence of trustworthy women – but take special care to respect the sensitivities of others who may be offended by clothing that is too revealing. When alone with her husband, he says, a woman can wear whatever is acceptable to the two of them.
When it comes to swimming outdoors, most scholars agree that all of the female body should be covered except for the face and the hands in public, automatically disqualifying traditional bathing attire as well as clothes that cling to the body, thus revealing its shape. Should a private, women-only pool be available, it’s required for women to respect the rules of awrah (the parts of the body that cannot be exposed to others).
Sheikh Ahmad Kutty, a senior lecturer and scholar at the Islamic Institute of Toronto, explains: “There is general agreement among scholars that (a Muslim woman) may uncover her hair, face, hands, neck, shoulders, legs from below her knees as well as feet in front of (other) Muslim women.” Sheikh Abdus Salam cautions against swimming with those who do not cover their awrah, and describes looking at other people’s awrah as “a major sin.”
Swimwear that is both Modest and Fashionable
Throughout the United States, Muslim women are finding more opportunities to swim according to their needs - and it is no longer necessary to depend on long shorts or leggings and t-shirts as modest swimwear. Hasema, for example, is a Turkish company that began producing conservative swimwear in 1989.
Shoppers can select anything from a sweat-suit styled outfit in bright colors with a matching headscarf, down to a tank suit with shorts sewn with tanning-friendly fabric.
Matsumi Design of Canada is marketing a three-piece swimsuit that consists of a sleeveless overall, a matching outer coat and a headpiece that “won't stick to the body or describe the figure,” while Sajeda International offers two suits made of water-repellant Turkish fabric that covers the whole body.
Splashgear, an American company set to launch in September of 2006, allows buyers to mix and match headgear, tops and pants to suit their style.
Entrepreneurs Meet the Demands of Muslim Women
Um Sajidah, a revert from Lynnwood, Washington, was searching for appropriate swimwear for her growing family of girls in the early nineties. While browsing the marketplace in Malaysia, she found a suit that did not meet her needs, but which became the inspiration for future suits instead.
By 1996, she had sewn several prototypes and was testing them on her young daughters. “The difference between my suits and other models is the skirt. It makes the suit more flattering and smoothes out the curves,” explained Um Sajidah.
Her basic suit is made from lycra/spandex swimsuit material. It has knee-length pants, a tank body and a short skirt. She tailors each suit to the wearer, adding short sleeves or lengthening the skirt to individual taste. To date, most of her swimwear has been made for girls, but more women are ordering for themselves as well.
Jennifer Suleiman, a customer who owns both an adult suit and another for her daughter, said, “It is comfortable swimwear that allows the Muslimah (Muslim woman) to participate in a vital athletic activity without sacrificing her modesty. The colors and styles are tasteful, yet not dowdy.”
Swimwear Opens the Door to Fun and Fitness
Competition has not been a concern for Um Sajidah since most sales are by personal order and amongst her friends. She is working on a web site to widen her audience, but enjoys providing a means for Muslim women to protect their religion while still living their lives.
“If my daughters and I have a need for these kinds of suits,” said the swimsuit entrepreneur, “I know there are other sisters who want to swim and still be modest, too.”
While non-Muslims sometimes look at the Muslim woman with pity during the summer heat, we do have solutions! In the right environment, and with the right dress, Muslim women can enjoy a healthful lifestyle while also having fun.