By Peter Townson, Gulf Times
Muslim sportswomen were presented with a taste of conservative chic sportswear at the â€˜Aspire4Sportâ€™ conference last weekend, where renowned UAE-based fashion designer, Rabia Z presented her latest collection of sports and couture items.
Rabiaâ€™s â€˜Ruby4Aspireâ€™ collection is aimed at providing sports gear for Muslim women who wish to participate in sport but remain wearing the hijab.
The designer explained that she has been researching the collection for some time, and has been working hard to create a collection that Arab women will feel comfortable to exercise wearing it.
She said that she had been inspired to create the collection after giving up rock climbing despite her passion for it, simply because she felt she did not have adequate sportswear to continue after deciding to wear the hijab.
â€œMost Muslims I know wear abayas for walking, gym jagging or sportswear,â€ she said, adding â€œthis is because they cannot find conventional active gym wear that fits their niche needs -â€“ and I wanted to ensure this.â€
Following her fashion show, Rabia told Gulf Times about her desire to encourage Muslim women all over the world to take part in sport.
â€œIf you feel that you have a talent for sport, or a passion for it, or youâ€™re good at it, or youâ€™re contemplating taking up a sport but feel you have limitations, I want you to feel free to take part in sport,â€ she said.
â€œI want to encourage women to be all they can be and not to think that they have limitations because they are wearing an abaya,â€ she said, adding â€œI would like to encourage them to feel freedom.â€
She explained that she also used hints of Qatari culture to inspire the collection, and stated that her muse for her creations was HH Sheikha Mozah Nasser al-Misnad. â€œI see her personal style as extremely feminine; it compliments her inherent confidence and adds to her charisma.â€
â€œI want to salute her through my collection,â€ she said, adding
â€œâ€˜Ruby4Aspireâ€™ represents her vibrant vision of our culture, filled with colour, creativity, embodying the spirit of competition without limitations in dress-code, or religious beliefs.â€
â€œFreedom of expression, freedom of performance, so they can live to their full potential, this is the mantra,â€ added Rabia.
She explained that the material used to create her designs include a number of features to heighten performance, reduce odours, and to help sportswomen in a variety of ways.
The collection, for Spring/Summer 2011 will be available from March 2011, and Rabia explained that the best place to acquire the items is by visiting her group on Facebook or by emailing email@example.com.
She added that some of the items may be available from Aspire in the future, as Aspire had served as the inspiration for the collection.