Intended Target Demographic

So let's talk workout clothes. I recently tweeted out that finding a nice, light, breathable, pls be summer-wearable-i-beg-you long-sleeve workout top. Finding long-sleeve workout tops is honestly the most challenging part of being a hijab-wearing runner. I was discussing this with a friend of mine earlier - my friend works at a really high end athletic store that surprisingly doesn't have much running selection, which she actually didn't realize until I mentioned it - they only have running shorts and tank tops.

PLEASE DON'T GET ME WRONG HERE: The shorts are really cute. It's an ethical brand and they're making moves in the right direction in terms of sustainability but also what does a girl have to do to find a pair of summer running joggers. I want to look cute while I'm running and feel great too. 

When I mentioned to her that I couldn't find any long-sleeve running tops she pointed out that it's not the season for long-sleeve. I then brought the point up that well I'm in long-sleeve all season and I don't only exist in the winter or just for company campaigns that champion inclusion on the posters but are the leaders of exclusion on their store floors.

Obviously I wasn't coming for her as if this was her issue, and I said that with some sugar coated on it,  I was just pointing out the imbalance of what companies preach and what their words without action store floors look like. Her comment of it's not the season really stuck with me for a few reasons, though. I was looking to buy the Tala - Grace Beverley's amazing sustainable, ethical, beautiful tip top of an ice-berg of athletic companies  athletic-wear company - Aster Crop. It was a long-sleeve crop and I was thinking of putting a breathable tank top underneath and bam a cute outfit to workout/run in.

Except here was the problem:

I couldn't find a long breathable tank top anywhere.
I'm not talking floor length, I'm just talking I'd like a lil bit of coverage in the back for my bottom, that's all. I searched just about everywhere: Adidas, Nike, Under Armour, New Balance etc. Nike has a tank top that looked like what I had in mind but it was out of stock and also Nike isn't really the most ethical company and I'm trying to be a bit more ethical with my purchases so I wasn't really all that thrilled to what I would inevitably be contributing to: the existence of sweat shops that are filled with native people to the third world country Nike decided to settle in and are making pennies instead of an actual living wage.

The more consumers purchase from these companies, the more they- CEO's of these companies -  brush the issue of decent livable wages and proper working conditions under the rug - once you know about these people making those clothes that are such a bargain you can't un-know.

I'm not here to preach all about sustainability. I wear a Nike Hijab, Nike Long-Sleeve top, and Nike Sneakers. I'm trying to be better. I'm trying.  Nike champions Muslim women - Ibtihaj Muhammad, fencer for Team USA and Zeina, Boxer from Germany -  but who is making those clothes? A major factory(s) for them in is in Vietnam. In 2015, the Institute of Global and Labour and Human Rights had an article stating that Nike paid their workers 27 cents an hour in 2012 and in 2015 began paying them 48-69 cents an hour. As of 2016, they earn 118 - 171 US Dollars a month.

After sifting though the major players in the athletic world, including lululemon - they had what I was looking for but that price point killed my soul a lil bit -  I began to think of Muslim Owned businesses.

But here's the issue: They don't know their target demographic.

Or they do, and they want to drain me dry like the Sahara Desert because they know they are my last (i'm sorry but this is the honest truth. Their price range/points are not at all affordable for a student, recent grad or anyone really within that limbo of a target demographic. they need to do better and understand their target demographic, and take some notes from Grace Beverly whose brand is ethical, eco-friendly, and affordable) resort for athletic-wear.

I purchased from one shop once, the fabric wasn't that light weight and in some ways I felt that it negatively effected my leg range of motion. There was too much fabric going on. At the moment I run 7'20 min/mile on a regular and sprinting at 4'52 min/mile in my speed workouts with that top on was just uncomfortable due to the length and fabric of the top.

This limbo of a forgotten target demographic has lead me to the only logical conclusion:

Read a manual on the sewing machine I have, wipe the dust off of it and watch a youtube video on how to use said sewing machine (hi I'm a visual and kinesthetic learner so reading a manual, although good to fill in gaps, is honestly the worst way for me to learn something) to make my own tank-top and running joggers.

They may not look cute. They may have some zig-zagged stitching because I'm below the level of a beginner. But someone's gotta pick up the slack and since companies are failing me in athletic-wear, this is sort of the only available option. I'd like to wear that Aster Crop from Tala, and that tank-top I need underneath probably won't look like something out of Athleta, but it'll be a start to wearing clothes that fit me the way they're supposed to.

Most of my joggers are from either Nike or Old Navy (as of recent I've eyed one from Adidas too but I have research to do for their ethics.) Most of my athletic shopping for tops is in the men's section, and yes they have some comfy long-sleeve tops and I'm forever grateful for the men's section prices that are a blessing for this broke recent grad, but for once I'd like to wear something that was made for the intended target demographic. I teach myself a lot of new things, partially to fill my time and to make sure I don't fall in a black hole of demoralization and degradation of the tech interview process to get a full time job as a Software Engineer and partially because I like challenges.

I like jumping hurdles and look forward to jumping this one.

What's everyone's experience shopping for athletic-wear? I'd love to hear of any new places you know of! Or do you also sometimes feel that in some ways although companies preach about inclusion in their campaigns (whether that be make-up, athletic-wear etc.) but their store floors/products don't reflect that? Let's get this conversation going!


  1. I've never shopped for athletic wear in my life and probably never will (!) but the point about target demographics is spot on. Look at all that furore recently over the plus size mannequin in teh Nike store. Not everyone is a gym bunny who wants to flash the flesh, we come in all shapes and sizes and it's high time manufacturers started to realise this. Great post! Lisa x

    1. Shopping for athletic wear is always a struggle, mainly because most places only cater to one demographic which then leaves a whole bunch of others in a demographic-limbo. I did see the plus sized mannequin in the Nike store, and although yes of course representation of plus sized individuals in athletic stores is severely lacking and this was a step to help those that are in that demographic to find something in Nike that's made with them in mind - and a stepping stone for other brands to follow suit - I also keep Nike's ethics in mind.

      They have a road ahead of them before being classed as ethical in both caring for the environment with the emissions their factories must give off as well as paying a decent/livable wage to workers.

      Athletic-wear companies have ways to go in terms of making clothes that cater to not just the ones who wear sports bras and shorts at the gym or on their runs, there's the people who wear mid-level-tights, the ones who wear tanks, short-sleeves, the ones who run in joggers, the ones who wear long sleeve - most athletic wear companies cater only to the sports bras and shorts demographic, I look forward to seeing representation being more than tokenization and money-grabbing but actually understanding that the standard for workout clothes has not just "evolved" but that the standard was never just a sports bra and shorts.

      Thanks so much for reading!

  2. I agree with so much of this!!! My reasons aren't religious but as someone with practically zero self confidence, I'm not too keen on showing skin, especially not when running, so I always wear a long sleeved top too and a lot of them are winter thermals because brands don't seem to make lighter summer versions. Not ideal when you're sweating heavily on mile one of five/ six or more! Let me know when you find a good one 😂 x


    1. I totally get you!! It's all about comfort - and it's like companies forget that a target demographic outside of the ~standard~ exist.

      YES SO MUCH WINTER THERMALS. When I tell you how much I'm sweating by mile 1, like there may be 5 miles left to go but it's going to be a miracle if I don't sweat enough to make a new river to be named after me - the search for a running top continues!!

  3. You make a really good point, one that I will admit I've overlooked. I'm fortunate to be included in the demographic that most of these companies are marketing to. This is a great opportunity for someone looking to kick off their own business and take up the reigns of an entrepreneur!

    1. Most definitely! It's all down to if the future entrepreneur does the right research on the target demographic in terms of price range - and of course ethics!- if they do their research right, they're going to soar!!

  4. Sorry to hear you have such trouble finding appropriate running clothes! And the fact that Nike pay their workers so little is shocking (but not surprising sadly). I'd love to wear / buy more ethical clothes for Yoga but some of these websites are SO expensive!


    1. Running clothes have always been a struggle to shop for - wish it wasn't! When I first learned about the price Nike pays their workers it was shocking but after watching the documentary True Cost, I can't say I was too surprised either.

      YES! The thing with ethical clothes, whether it be regular/workout , is the price range - fast fashion has the price while ethical clothing has the ethics - just have to mesh the price range + ethics together!