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Empowering women through comfortable sportswear

Copyrights: SPARK perform

Empowering women through comfortable sportswear

A German–Lebanese collaborative brand is making modest sportswear more accessible for women, in an attempt to increase women’s participation in recreational and elite sports.

Women’s participation in sport, at both the elite and grassroot levels, have been restricted due to a number of factors, and some of these discussions revolve around the issue of modesty – indeed, many think that it is immodest for women to jump around, play games and enjoy themselves.

In amateur and grassroot sport, many women are prohibited from sport and play on the grounds that they will have to wear clothes that some would consider too revealing. Many parents in more conservative societies restrict their daughters from playing sport because they do not want them wearing shorts and exposing their legs.

Many women also like to dress modestly, whether it is for socio-religious reasons or because of their community settings. However, due to a lack of modest sportswear available in the market, most women end up having to wear their everyday clothing during sports, clothing which usually restricts them. These clothes are heavy and cumbersome, accumulate heat, cause chafing, and ultimately do not allow women to excel in or enjoy sports.

This restricts women’s participation in sport, especially women who dress modestly. Thus, Muslim women (a demographic that tends to dress modestly) tend to be underrepresented in sports.

The issue is not just at an elite level – research has found that on average 80% of young people and adults do not meet the physical activity guidelines recommended by the World Health Organization, and this number is higher for women in Muslim-majority countries. Thus, the lack of available modest athletic wear also contributes to a lack of a sporting culture.

Eliminating this clothing barrier is SPARK perform, a German-Lebanese collaborative effort that aims to provide high-tech modest athletic wear for women. This is a brand developed by women, for women, understanding their specific needs of comfort and coverage.

SPARK perform has collaborated with female modest athletes worldwide to develop products that enable women to participate in sport to their full potential. The brand states: “None of the styles we develop are designed by us – the athletes are the creators.”

The idea for SPARK came from Tine Beez, the founder of SPARK perform, who, as a long-distance runner, found that the performance of modestly dressed female athletes were hindered by clothing that was not designed for them to be able to excel in sports – heat would accumulate under heavy fabrics and layers, and hijabs would not stay in place and would cause friction. Engineered in Germany, SPARK sportswear provides lightweight athletic options for women who would like to dress modestly while engaging in sports.

Beez notes: “Studying fashion womenswear at Central Saint Martins College in London and working for various sportswear brands worldwide, such as Adidas, gave me the tools and knowledge base to start my own high-performance sportswear brand – to create products that enable women, ranging from athleisure enthusiasts to elite athletes competing on a global scale, to perform to their best ability. I dedicate all my energy to this brand with the goal to make a difference.”

Having access to such clothing options is integral for women to feel comfortable in themselves, be empowered and participate in sport. Without compromising on style, function and performance, SPARK perform gives women the confidence to participate in sport, whether at elite or grassroots level. With brands such as SPARK perform making modest athletic wear accessible, Muslim women will now be able to enter and participate in sport more easily.

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Monday, March 22, 2021 - 10:49

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