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Sports clothing lines cater to religiously observant athletes

Sports clothing lines cater to religiously observant athletes
The Splashgear full-coverage swimwear line includes a hood and a one-piece skirted pair of swim bottoms. (Splashgear)

When fencer Ibtihaj Muhammad walks into the stadium for the opening ceremonies of the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, people will take notice. Ibtihaj, an observant Muslim, will be the first U.S. athlete to compete while adhering to hijab, the Koranic principle of modesty.

Until recently, the sight of visibly religious women and girls participating in physical activities was uncommon. And clothing lines catering to women who dress modestly — whether hijab or tzniut, Judaism's equivalent, or conservative Christians who abide by principles of biblical modesty — were hard to find.

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Gary Swickley, founder and chief executive of Kosher Casual, a manufacturer of modest active wear for women and girls, said demand has boomed over the last two years.

Fencer Ibtihaj Muhammad.
Fencer Ibtihaj Muhammad. (Damian Dovarganes / Associated Press)

"We used to only make a skirt with leggings, which is still popular," he said, "but we get a lot of customer feedback. They want more options and we listen."

The demand has much to do with women coming of age in an era that looks nothing like the one their mothers were raised in.

Connected to the Internet and engaged in public life, they're playing, swimming and running in ever increasing numbers and are doing so without compromising their faith.

SPLASHGEAR

Splashgear full-coverage swimwear offers sun protection of up to UPF 50+.
Splashgear full-coverage swimwear offers sun protection of up to UPF 50+. (Splashgear)

Beachy, full-coverage pieces include ankle-length versions of board shorts, rash guards in different lengths and headgear. They don't cling when wet, have maximum UV protection and dry rapidly. splashgearusa.com

CAPSTERS

Capsters are breathable, stretchable, come in a variety of colors and stay in place.
Capsters are breathable, stretchable, come in a variety of colors and stay in place. (Peter Stigter / www.capsters.com)

Made to tough out the most intense sport, Capsters are head coverings that are breathable, stretchable, come in a variety of colors and most important, stay in place. They're also FIFA-certified. capsters.com

AQUA MODESTA

Active Modesta offers the "skant," designed to look like a skirt and function as a pant.
Active Modesta offers the "skant," designed to look like a skirt and function as a pant. (Active Modesta)

Modest swimwear for girls and women, including a comfortable alternative to a knee-length skirt and leggings, called the Skant. It meets standards of tzniut while allowing full mobility in activities that require extended leg movement. aquamodesta.com

NASHATA

Nashata's sports hijab and activewear.
Nashata's sports hijab and activewear. (Nashata.com)

Specializing in sports hijab and stylish, full-performance, head-to-toe activewear. shop.nashata.com/en

KOSHER CASUAL

Active wear from Kosher Casual.
Active wear from Kosher Casual. (Tom Langford / Kosher Casual)

Multitasking active wear that performs in the water or on the basketball court: It's made of breathable, lightweight fabric, has UV protection, is fast-drying and fade-resistant. koshercasual.com

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