Olympic Fashion: Athletes' uniform wows and woes
Swimmer Ryan Lochte, left, decathlete Bryan Clay, rower Giuseppe Lanzone and soccer player Heather Mitts in the uniforms designed by Ralph Lauren.
USA soccer player Heather Mitts in Ralph Lauren apparel.
Olympic vintage tank, $24.95 at the Gap or gap.com.
"Dream, Believe, Achieve" stainless cuff, $29.95 at usolympiccollection.org.
Ralph Lauren Olympic tote bag, $165 at ralphlauren.com.
USA-UK flag sport cap by Ralph Lauren, $55 at ralphlauren.com.
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Move over medal counts, world records and reigning champions. Style has surged into the spotlight in the days leading up to the London Olympics.
By now, nearly everyone has heard about the controversy surrounding Ralph Lauren, which had the opening ceremony uniforms for Team USA made in China.
But America isn't the only country in a tizzy over its team's togs. Brits are underwhelmed by the athletic wear created for Team UK by designer Stella McCartney, daughter of former Beatle Paul McCartney. Some say her attempt at a fresh take on the Union Jack flag by incorporating turquoise and reserving red for accents on sleeves, collars and shoes was a flop. "Too blue" and tight-fitting were among the most common laments circulating in cyberspace.
In Spain, athletes have taken jabs on Twitter at the parade uniforms by Russian-based firm Bosco. Rather than inspiring thoughts of patriotism, the red-and-yellow get-ups have many thinking pizza delivery person, thanks to the bright color combo, busy print and striped details on sleeves and collars.
Meanwhile, Russia's Olympic Committee has been battling rumors that it contacted American Apparel to outfit its athletes for the 2014 Olympics.
France is among the nations that aren't frowning about the fashions they'll be donning at the Olympics. The French equestrian team will be dressed in form-fitting riding attire by fashion house Hermes, while the Republic of San Marino, Italy, will impress in white trousers, loafers or heels, blazers and crepe dresses by Salvatore Ferragamo.
You don't have to be London-bound to take part in the fashion festivities. Shopping websites such as www.teamusashop.com and shop.olympic.org are devoted to Olympic garb ranging from jewelry and umbrellas to totes and tees. Department stores and boutiques across the U.S. have beefed up their inventory of red, white and blue clothes, accessories and beauty products.
Some stores and designers have launched special collections in honor of the global event. Today, Karl Lagerfeld of Fendi and Chanel fame will debut at British retail chain Selfridges & Co. a Team Karl limited-edition capsule collection in honor of the Games of the XXX Olympiad. Old Navy and the Gap have introduced lines featuring graphic T-shirts inspired by motifs from past Olympics.
Ralph Lauren's navy-red-and-white-topped-with-a-beret Team USA uniforms and apparel collection also pay homage to previous Olympiads, particularly the 1948 London games, through updated crests and vintage designs. They're available at select fine department and Ralph Lauren stores, teamusashop.com and www.ralphlauren.com, along with Olympic bags, sunglasses, caps and more by the designer.
The controversy over the opening ceremony outfits' source is still on some people's minds. U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, has introduced a "Buy America" bill, which will task the federal government with purchasing clothes that are 100 percent homegrown. Currently, U.S. military uniforms are required only to be 51 percent USA-made.
"We know how to make things in America, and the textile sector employs more than half a million workers in the United States, which is why the federal government should be purchasing, whenever possible, apparel that is domestically produced," Mr. Brown said.
Joined by New York-based designer and Youngstown, Ohio, native Nanette Lepore and Lawson Nickol of All American Clothing Co., Mr. Brown is encouraging the U.S. Olympic Committee to hold a summit with American manufacturers following the 2012 Olympics to bring more attention to USA-produced apparel. For its part, Ralph Lauren will make sure the 2014 Olympics opening and closing ceremony ensembles are union-made.
First Published July 24, 2012 12:00 am