Thawrih’s hijabs and turbans won’t make you sweat

The young Ottawa company employs recent Syrian refugees to make culturally-appropriate workout gear that fits modern life
thawrih After only a year in business, Ottawa clothing company is shipping to ten countries and making its mark in Muslim and Sikh workout wear. (Thawrih/Facebook)

Coming to a new country is full of challenges. One of the biggest can be adapting one's culture to the traditions and trends of a different society. Muslims and Sikhs in Canada know this especially well. Take clothing, for example.

Many Muslim females wear a head covering called a hijab, while Sikh males (as well as some females) wear one called a turban. These pieces of clothing are a vital part of their religion and culture. But finding clothing that both respects this importance and is in tune with modern life can be really difficult. Especially if you love to play sports or work out. In short, it can be hard to find a hijab for the gym!

Fortunately, a new Ottawa clothing company called Thawrih (say TH-ow-ray) is here to help. And even the police is taking notice (in a good way!).

Keeping you cool and covered

Thawrih was started in 2017 by Sarah Abood, a 22 year-old personal trainer from Ottawa. She wanted to make athletic gear for Muslims and Sikhs so that they could, as she told CBC, "actually go to the gym and feel comfortable working out, feeling dry and cool."

Traditionally, hijabs and turbans are made of materials like cotton or latex. These materials either soak up water like a sponge or do not "breathe" very well. The end result is that a person's head gets waterlogged, hot, and stuffy. That's not much fun when you're shooting hoops with some friends.

So Thawrih makes their clothing with quick-dry materials such as polyester and bamboo that draw sweat away from the body. They also have hidden headbands to provide a solid fit. You can even swim in them! The benefits are simple—people feel more comfortable in the gym because they can both workout and honour their religion.

Keeping it local and supportive

The company—whose name means "revolutionary" in Arabic—is supporting their community in other ways, too. Its clothing is handmade and Abood has hired recent Syrian refugees to make the clothing.

This move is important because it gives good local jobs to people who need them. Even when Abood was approached by investors wanting to help expand the business, she refused because all of them wanted to move the production of the clothing out of the country.

"That is something we are not interested in," she told CBC. "We want to keep it locally made."

That doesn't mean the company isn't expanding, though. They have designs for activewear that cover the body according to traditions, such as swimming leggings and long-sleeve workout gear. And they have even been approached by the Ottawa police force for hijabs and turbans for officers.

Watch a tutorial on how to wear their "Your Revolution" Sport Hijab below.

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