Who wears the most fashionable uniform at the Olympics?

Nadja Beschetnikova
February 14, 2018

Collections of designer sneakers that drive all the fashionistas crazy have given us to understand that sport and fashion are very close. Although in fact they always went hand in hand.

It is enough to recall the history of some of the largest fashion brands. Lacoste was founded by a tennis player. Initially, René Lacoste had an idea to produce comfortable and modern tennis outfits, which resulted in the creation of the most famous polo shirts. And Lacoste’s nickname - «the Crocodile» - inspired the emergence of one of the most recognizable brand logo in the world.

Two giants of sportswear market - Adidas and Puma - were birthed from a fight between two brothers, whose way to success started in their mother’s laundry.

The shoe company of Dassler brothers equipped many athletes at the 1928 Olympics and at the 1936 Olympics, the shoes stole the spotlight, as the African-American athlete Jesse Owens won four gold medals, wearing Dassler's creation.

Since then the Olympics became a showplace not only for enviable achievements in sports. Setting a new world record everyone wants to look great now. The opening and closing ceremonies went beyond the formal presentation of competitors. They remind us a fashion show, both in a creative approach to decoration and outfits. Taking an honorary lap around the stadium under the flag, the athletes do not only smile and wave. In this special moment, they are the carriers of national identity, representing the whole country, its culture, and values.

No wonder, many national teams rely on renowned luxury designers.
Stella McCartney, Prada, and Giorgio Armani are just a few fashion houses which joined the competition.

The Olympics has seen absolute different collections on its ‘catwalks’. Native costumes, weird accessories and strange color combinations. And leave alone the most unexpected collaborations!

Just try to guess which national team was equipped with Christian Louboutin’s outfits without peeking the answer in the second part of the article. We put together the most iconic fashion moments of the recent Olympics.   

But let’s start with the topic du jour, which is, of course, the Winter Olympics in South Korea. Which national team is the most fashionable one in Pyeongchang? We had a look through the athletes’ wardrobes and picked three teams ready for the runway.

1. France
Dressed by Lacoste

The crocodile logo first appeared on the chests of the French athletes during the winter games in Sochi in 2014.
Recently the brand has renewed its collaboration with the French national team for the 2017-2020 Olympiad.

That means we can expect Team France to wear famous polo shirts in Tokyo during the 2020 Summer Olympic Games.

For the games in Korea, the brand created the elegant line of winter apparel with distinguished silhouettes and stylish color touches, which should emphasize the Frenchness. The famous crocodile logo has been painted patriotic: the face is red, the body is white and the tail and backside are striped in blue.

We are ready to support French team just to see these fabulous suits, supposed for the medal winners.

Sharply white puffer coats with a red zipper slightly moved to the side and figure-fitting pants are just a proof that the winners take it all, including gorgeous clothing. With a thin touch of navy blue on small chest pocket, collar and wristbands Lacoste the national color palette of France is complete.

For the opening and closing ceremonies, the French athletes will be kitted in navy blue tracksuit pants with matching parkas made of technical materials.

2. Italy
Dressed by Armani

Giorgio Armani is an experienced player in the Olympics. He has a long-term partnership with Italian Olympics Committee and supplied sports uniform at the 2012 London Olympic Games, 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics and 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.
Though Armani was widely criticized for his designs in 2012, the fashion mogul remained responsible for incorporation of Italian culture with ethos of sport.

Compared to the minimalist dark-blue (actually it looked black) and white items back in 2012, for 2018 Winter Games Armani went back to the style, which reflects the national colors better.
The EA7 Emporio Armani collection created for the 2018 Italian Olympic and Paralympic teams is made up of a long down coat; a technical-fabric ski tracksuit and mantle; a jumper; a polo fleece shirt, and cotton trousers.

The outfit for the ceremonies consists of a long padded jacket with a hood and trousers. The main color of the collection is still blue, but this time the designer chose its softer gradation. The adornment is referring to the colors of the Italian flag. And if it’s not enough to spark athletes’ patriotic feelings, there is a verse of the national anthem, printed in gold inside jackets and sweatshirts. 

The collection is accomplished with accessories such as gloves, hats, scarves, boot backpacks and luggage trolleys. Well, the team is perfectly equipped for both their free time and official occasions.

‘I always watch the Olympic Games, and our athletes, with great interest. Sport is a universal language that conveys excellent values and is able to bring people together. I am very happy about this renewed partnership. Designing the uniforms for the Italian team is an exciting stylistic exercise, and has resulted in pieces that combine comfort, ease of use, technical performance and elegance,’ says Giorgio Armani.

3. USA
Dressed by Ralph Lauren

Ralph Lauren’s signature style is based on the aesthetics of the American upper class with a light British accent and noble vibes. 
The American West has been a well-established source of inspiration for the designer while designing classic American clothing was the central focus of his brand strategy.
Basically, the brand represents American lifestyle as we love it. Wearing Ralph Lauren you feel wealthy, confident, chic but not too pretentious. Lauren once said of his style, “I’m interested in longevity, timelessness, style—not fashion.”

Lauren’s collaboration with USA Olympics Committee lasts over 10 years. In the time he managed to develop a recognizable authentic look for the USA team. The signature style includes modern fabrications in a patriotic spirit of red, white, and blue with bold depictions of the U.S. Olympic Team logo and American flag.

At the opening ceremony, the athletes wore a red-and-blue parka with a white stripe, classic jeans, country-style sweater decorated in a wintry red, white and blue pattern, and suede mountaineering boots. But the classic appearance was stirred up with another attention-grabbing garment.

The gigantic suede gloves with fringe attracted controversy on the Internet. Twitter can’t stop making jokes and hilarious comparisons.

Nonetheless Ralph Lauren sold out of the $995, limited-edition Team USA Ceremony suede gloves in the first weekend.

And while social media fashionistas can dispute over its hipness, we must admit that Ralph Lauren provides one of the most innovative collection. Pyeongchang, South Korea, is proving to be one of the coldest locations to ever host the international sports event, due to its geographical location. And Ralph Lauren equipped the athletes with the proper gear to endure the below-freezing weather.

“We knew about the cold,” says David Lauren, chief innovation officer at Ralph Lauren, “and hit on the idea of using wearable technology to keep our athletes warm.”

The parkas have a heat-generating panel in the shape of an American flag on the interior shell of the jacket. Athletes will be able to activate their self-warming jackets by pushing a button on a slim lithium-ion battery pack. The system is designed to provide up to 11 hours of warmth, and has three settings so athletes can control their own temperatures.

It’s surprising that this heated car seat technology hasn’t become a fashion trend yet, but we will love Ralph Lauren even more if he forces this «fashion meets technology» moment to the hype level. 

At the closing ceremony, the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic teams will wear a white water-repellent down jacket, a vintage-inspired blue sweater with red and white color blocking and blue double-fleece pants. The ensemble will be enhanced with woolen mittens, an American flag-printed bandana and a matching hat.  

And now, as we promised, let’s go back to the remarkable moments of the latest games and start with the probably most ridiculous cooperation, which nonetheless brought absolute stunning result.

I am Cuba

When you hear this name you’d rather imagine glamorous girls from high society, wearing coveted red sole heels. Christian Louboutin, the French footwear designer, left for a while the luxurious world and partnered with former professional handball player Henri Tai in 2016 to produce outfits for the Olympic delegation from Cuba. 

Though in the outfits created for the Closing Ceremony Rio de Janeiro there was no lack of Louboutin’s signature color.

The pieces included tailored jackets in red for men and beige for women, with the Cuban flag emblazoned on the breast pocket and the five-pointed star on the back; and interchangeable black trousers, shorts, and skirts. 

National pride

Sometimes the delegations take the task to represent a country’s culture quite literally. The national costumes are not rare at the ceremonies. The most iconic adherer of cultural roots is Pita Taufatofua, Tonga’s flag bearer. He is known as a very well-rounded athlete since he competed in both Summer and Winter Olympics.

Pita as well made history as the country’s first athlete to ever compete in the cross-country ski event.   

The Mexican team once paraded rightly colored ponchos and garishly embroidered shirts, bringing the festive energy into the formal event.
In Pyeongchang Mexico's Ski Team will compete in the Day of the Dead inspired uniform.

And it seems that we can always count on Mexico’s Ski Team - they know how to bring fire in the cold mountains. In 2014, Hubertus Von Hohenlohe, then the oldest member of the team, proudly wore a mariachi ski suit.

And, of course, we can count on Norway. For the third-straight Games, the famed Norwegian curlers prevent us from concentrating on the sliding stone, because all we can gawk at is their fabulous suits.

Bebeto Matthews, Associated Press

Well, if this is not a proof that fashion can make everything so exciting!