You’ve got to hand it to him. Ralph Lauren did exactly as he promised and followed through with his pledge to have the Team USA ceremonial Olympic uniforms made entirely in the USA. Not only were they made here, but all the materials were sourced domestically as well. It was not an easy task, but earlier this week the results were unveiled.
The media focus seems to be entirely on one piece – the schoolteacher Christmas sweater gone wild as seen above. I mean really, was Lauren just trying to get even with all the complainers of 2012? “They want Made in the USA? I’ll give them Made in the USA they’ll never forget!” could possibly have been his thought process.
But once he got that out of his system, the design team came up with some really great looking sportswear. I think the pea coat is really sharp. Yes, it does have the Polo Logo prominently displayed, but even that is toned down from the past few Olympics. Could it be that Ralph Lauren actually listens to his critics?
As bad as the cardigan is, this sweater is really great. It says all it needs to say: winter sports, Olympics, Team USA. And there is a similar one with reindeer on the front, and this design on the back.
You can see (and buy) most of the collection at RalphLauren.com. The stuff is not cheap. The pea coat is $795. Unfortunately, you can’t buy the tacky patchwork sweater as it is sold out. Things are selling quickly, so act fast!
Polo does not make the active apparel for competition. Each sports contracts with a manufacturer to develop and make their clothing.
This, believe it or not, is the gear for the USA snowboarding team. It was made by snowboarding company Burton. The backstory of the parka design is interesting, and is worth reading. It is based on an actual antique patchwork quilt, reinterpreted in high-tech performance fabrics. It seems a bit understated for snowboarders, but I do think it is a great adaptation of an antique textile design.
Fashion Magazine did a feature on their favorite Olympic uniforms from around the world. There is a slideshow, so click through to see if you agree with their favorites. Personally, I love the Polish team’s look. Really.
I also liked Canada’s uniforms, which were made by the Hudson’s Bay Company. The red duffle coat is nice and is for sale on their website. Unlike Polo, they outsourced their uniforms, and consequently they are half the price of the Polo ones. They do, to my eye, look cheaper.
And speaking of duffles, here is a Sports Illustrated cover from 1956, showing figure skaters Hayes Jenkins and Tenley Albright in their official USA Olympic coats. An old episode of Pawn Stars was on yesterday in which a woman took into the pawn shop an identical coat. It had an official Olympic Committee label inside, and the patch. They paid her $850 for it. (She found it in a thrift store for $15.)