See designs from the 2016 Rio Olympics opening ceremony uniforms — and learn their fashion secrets
The look of Australia’s Sportscraft-designed opening ceremony uniforms is inspired by the outfits worn by the Aussie team in the 1924 Paris Olympics.(Brendon Thorne / Getty Images)
South Korea’s opening ceremony uniforms may look full-on American preppy, but according to Beanpole, they were inspired by the traditional ceremonial ensemble known as “hanbok.”(Yonhap / EPA)
The Russian Olympic team’s 2016 uniforms were unveiled at an April 25, 2016, event in Moscow. Modeling the looks were, from left, former gymnast Olympic champion Alexei Nemov, former Olympic gymnastics champion Svetlana Khorkina, Russian national volley-ball team coach Vladimir Alekhno, former figure skater Olympic champion Tatiana Navka, former ice hockey star Pavel Bure.(Pavel Golovkin / AP)
When the Rio Olympics kick off in a little less than three weeks, viewers around the world won’t just be tuning in to a series of athletic competitions, they’ll also get a front-row seat to a global fashion show marathon that starts with the first footfalls of the opening ceremony Aug. 5 and continues unabated across the fields of play, swimming pools and sandy beaches until the Olympic flame is extinguished at the end of the closing ceremony 16 days later.
And, as in past years, there are enough big-name designers and brands on board for the Rio Olympics to fill a fashion week.
Among them are Stella McCartney, who has once again partnered with Adidas to create the look of Team Great Britain’s competition gear (look for a heraldic motif); Giorgio Armani, who has outfitted Italy’s athletes in EA7 Emporio Armani (Armani has also designed the opening ceremony uniforms, which are being kept under wraps until the big day); Lacoste’s artistic director Felipe Oliveira Baptista, who has helped give the French Olympic team a dash of panache (look for the crocodile logo rendered in the tricolor stripes of the national flag); and Polo Ralph Lauren, which is serving as the official outfitter of Team USA for the fifth time.
Although Ralph Lauren, like Armani, hasn’t taken the wraps off his opening ceremony togs yet (the closing ceremony uniforms were unveiled back in April), plenty of countries have done the big reveal. Here are a few of the looks worth taking a closer look at:
The Australian Olympic team looks absolutely preppy regatta-ble in light green-and-white-striped cotton seersucker blazers with dark green contrast taping, paired with white shorts for the men and a white skirt for the women. According to Sportscraft, the company responsible for the uniforms, the lining of the jackets is printed with the names of all past 107 gold medal winners from the land Down Under. Another cool detail? That’d be the footwear – white brogues by Toms Shoes, marking the first time the Venice-based shoe brand has gotten its foot in the door as an official Olympic outfitter.
Hudson’s Bay Co., the official outfitter of Team Canada, has tapped DSquared2’s Canadian-born wonder-twin designer brothers Dan and Dean Caten to add a dash of savoir-faire to our northern neighbor’s opening ceremony uniforms. The brothers do their mother country proud with a uniform that manages to perfectly marry the silhouette of traditional tailored clothing with the prevailing athleisure trend.
The result is a preppy-flavored cotton/nylon three-button, single-breasted, notch-lapel blazer in red with a high-low cut that comes off as almost cropped in the front but drops to a fishtail hem in the back. Sporty details include vertical welded-zipper breast pockets and elasticized jacket cuffs in black. The backs of the jackets and the long-sleeve T-shirts layered underneath are printed with the maple leaf design from the Canadian national flag, a red version on the T-shirt and a white one on the red jackets. Finishing off the uniform are wool-blend trousers with elasticized cuffs and waistbands and welded-zip pockets.
The preppy blazer is also the centerpiece of South Korea’s opening ceremony outfits designed by Beanpole. The 2016 Rio Olympic uniforms include natty-looking, navy blue notch-lapel linen jackets with white contrast tipping worn with long-sleeve shirts in a sky-blue, jersey-knit linen with white, button-down collars and cuffs and white taper-legged trousers. Rounding out the look are knit neckties for the gents and knotted four-color scarves for the ladies (the colors yellow and green from Brazil’s flag and red and blue from South Korea’s).
Despite the preppy/American vibe of the whole ensemble, it was inspired – at least in part – by South Korean garb. According to Beanpole’s website, the white contrast detailing on the front of the blazers is meant to reference the white cloth dongjeong attached to the collar of the hanbok top, explaining that the hanbok is a traditional ensemble that “symbolizes the pride of Korea.” In addition, the linings of the jackets have been embroidered with messages of encouragement for the Olympic athletes that were collected from across the country.
Another hidden feature of the uniforms addresses the big health concern going into the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. “All of the [opening ceremony] pieces,” reads the description, “used mothproofing materials to reduce the risk of [the] Zika [v]irus in Brazil.”
Stockholm-based fast-fashion conglomerate H&M is the outfitter of Rio-bound Swedish Olympic and Paralympic athletes. The collection, which includes opening ceremony uniforms, select competition pieces and the podium outfits, is served up in a range of yellow and blue hues that pay homage to the color combination on the national flag.
While the company has not identified – specifically – what the opening look will be, an H&M representative confirmed that at least some pieces from the opening ceremony uniform appear in a group photo of Swedish athletes provided to the press earlier this year. (We’re placing even money on the butter-yellow zip-front windbreakers.)
Because H&M has made eco-consciousness and sustainability a major focus over the last few years, it should come as no surprise that the Olympic threads – as well as the retail range they inspired – include recycled polyester fiber. The “For Every Victory” consumer collection, which launches online and in H&M stores on July 21, is offered in a more muted color palette of blacks and grays with pops of dusty pink and gold. Speaking of gold, the Swedish brand’s ad campaign for the collection includes a particularly high-profile Olympic gold medal winner by the name of Caitlyn Jenner.
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