Olympic Uniforms, 2014

Photo copyright Ralph Lauren Media LLC

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.

Photo copyright Ralph Lauren Media LLC

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?

Photo copyright Ralph Lauren Media LLC

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.

Photo copyright Burton Snowboards

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.

Photo copyright Sports Illustrated

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.)


Filed under Made in the USA, Sportswear, Viewpoint

33 responses to “Olympic Uniforms, 2014

  1. It is no wonder the cardigan was sold out. I fell in love with it at first glance!

    TV…had one foreign country’s outfit that was flashier than any I have seen…it was zig zag from tip to toe … I think in red and white and maybe blue, too.


  2. Chunky, crazy sweaters are all the rage! So it doesn’t surprise me that it’s sold out. I am so happy they followed through with the made in the US this year! It means a great deal to me.


  3. I liked the Estonian ones. That and Ralph’s blue and red peacoat.


  4. I can’t believe how awful these uniforms are, and I’m embarrassed for our Olympians. They’ll be “Ugly Americans” in the opening ceremony for sure!


    • I read somewhere that it was probably part of the plan to make something that would read “USA” from a distance, which is how the sweaters will be viewed as they are the uniform for the Opening Ceremony. I imagine most of these will be worn one time!

      The actual casual wear that the USA team will wear around the village is cute stuff. I love the knit hats and gloves.


  5. Oh, I adore the team uniforms for The Netherlands!

    I find it strange how different Ralph Lauren Olympic uniforms are from his usual fashions. I’ve found myself liking most of his “period-looking” styles from recent years but that never shows up in the team uniforms. I agree that the peacoat is nice and the sweater is charming, but oh ick! that cardigan is like a tacky Christmas party sweater.


  6. Leigh Ann

    I like the cardigan. So we’ve got differing opinions, I guess. : )
    To me, it looks happy. (The German uniforms, on the other hand…yikes.)
    I love the RL peacoat, as well. I can’t afford it, or I’d buy that. I think it’s fantastic that he was able to source and produce it all in the US. Well done.


  7. QueensGirl

    The cardigan is awful, nothing there to flatter an athletic physique. Reminds me of those 1980’s throw blankets in a bad way. I think the Norwegian zigzagged outfits are great!


  8. vastlycurious.com

    What a great Blog! You are getting just better and better. I would take the Pea Coat. Classic! Bravo Ralph Lauren …again!


  9. The Russian ones – can’t resist those beautiful princess-fur trimmed coats!


  10. I was with some friends yesterday who were all complaining about the Ralph Lauren sweater, saying it looked like an ugly Christmas sweater — so now I know what they were talking about!
    I’m a fan of color, so Germany’s uniforms are the most appealing to me.


  11. I like the RL pea coat, too…but dang, the big screaming POLO logos on all the American outfits seem so tacky to me. Buy a flipping billboard, Ralph, sheesh. (The polo logo on the pea coat looks like a sticker slapped on at the last second.) I do like the look of the US outfits otherwise (though not a fan of the “ugly sweater”…like the style but not the patchwork Christmas craziness). I’m with you in liking the Polish team’s the best otherwise. They look sporty and warm.


    • I hate the positioning of the cattywampus logo. I understand why the logos are there. This cost RL a lot of money, and they do want to at least get a little advertising out of it. Still, that logo should be on the sleeve of somewhere not so in your face.

      Actually I’m glad the logo is there because it keeps me from doing something stupid like ordering as $800 coat!


  12. I love the pea coat, love it. (Of course, it would be better if the accent color were orange, but that wouldn’t be patriotic.) All of the other RL pieces are pretty ugly to my keep-it-simple eyes. But they certainly represent one strain of the American aesthetic.


  13. Christina

    Manufacturing information about the pea coat (nod to our Canadian Hudson Bay design) may suggest the wool yarn was sourced from one or several spinning companies – Pennsylvania? – and then shipped to various contactors – New York – where the coats were sewn.


  14. Christina

    I should have said the wool cloth after being spun and then woven may have been shipped to the contractors in New York for garment production.


  15. Hi Lizzie, there was a hilarious take-down of the sweater in the NY Times the other day, http://www.nytimes.com/2014/01/24/sports/olympics/us-olympic-outfits-worthy-of-stares-if-not-medals.html?_r=0 . I don’t like either sweater, but the peacoat is great. Wish I would stumble on that vintage duffle in the thrift store!


  16. So glad that they were mad ein the USA this time around and about the domestically sourced materials but yeesh are some of those pieces ugly. lol Kudos for the made in USA though. I guess you can’t have it all.


  17. Pingback: Vintage, Schmintage; faking vintage looks with modern patterns | Jet Set Sewing

  18. Pingback: 1932 Olympic Blankets | Pendleton Woolen Mills

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