On Aug 5, the world’s biggest runway for sportswear kicks off in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
Teams of sportspeople will be parading their athletic and formal uniforms (for opening and closing ceremonies) to showcase national pride. Some countries have even roped in prominent couturiers such as Stella McCartney and Ralph Lauren to add their designer touch.
At this year’s Summer Olympics, who has a shot at winning fashion gold? Here, we pick the winners and losers.
WHAT’S GOLD WORTHY
The 120-strong team have been outfitted by none other than Christian Louboutin, with men sporting a classic hi-top sneaker and women the kitten-heeled Naza Sandal.
Their accompanying outfits are designed by former professional handball player Henri Tai, and take their cue from Louboutin’s signature red soles. Sharply tailored jackets in red (for men) and beige (for women) are adorned with a five-point star on the back as an emblem of good luck. “Even if Cuba doesn’t fare so well in the medals table, they’ve already won the outfit race,” crooned Elle UK.
The United States
Returning as fashion coach, Ralph Lauren plays it safe with ensembles that won’t look out of place in a fashion catalogue. With button-down shirts, white shorts, striped belts and signature Polo logo, designs are true to Lauren’s classic aesthetic. Nothing says all-American as the iconic preppy style.
Designed by Dan and Dean Caten, the Canadian duo behind Dsquared2, Team Canada’s Olympic uniform is described as “an innovative mash-up of two diverse worlds: tailoring and sport.” It features stylish, athletic shapes crafted around Canada’s most distinct motif: the maple leaf. The outfit’s main attraction is a tailored blazer designed with windbreaker material. On their website, Dsquared2 writes that the jacket “features a sartorial finish with flap pockets, gum covered snap buttons, ribbed cuffs and a bonded zip pocket on the chest.”
Collaborating with Adidas, Stella McCartney went full force on national branding by plastering a large GB (Great Britain) all over. The ensembles make strong use of traditional Union Jack colours: white sweaters, navy blue leggings and red accents throughout. Although her designs have met with mixed reactions – critics do not like the “barely there” and “skimpy” pieces – you cannot accuse McCartney of being boring with this bold wardrobe.
The uniform generated headlines not so much for its aesthetic, but for its mosquito repellent within the fabrics to prevent any possibility of the Zika virus affecting the athletes. The formal uniforms feature long trousers and long-sleeved shirts under a blazer treated with the special formula. Mosquitoes, be gone!
Talk about overcooked! This uniform has been mocked by Internet users, with heated discussion over its bright use of colour, with some saying the uniforms look like stir-fried tomatoes and scrambled egg. There is even a hashtag (#ScrambledEggsWithTomato) on Weibo, the country’s biggest social media platform.
Male athletes will wear a red jacket with white trousers and white shoes, while female athletes will don a yellow jacket with a white skirt and white shoes.
A widely-shared meme not too subtly likened the uniform to Pelikan erasers. The backlash has been so harsh, Iranian officials say they will erase, I mean, re-design their team’s opening ceremony outfits.
The uniform has been called plain and ordinary-looking, and “a cure for insomnia in clothing form”. However, New Zealand prime minister John Key disagreed, saying the athletes would look good in anything. “They’re there to be great athletes, not fashion models,” he said.
William likes Team Canada’s uniform the best, but is now craving for scrambled eggs with tomato.