The real problem with Team USA’s Olympic uniforms isn’t that they’re ugly. It’s who made them.
Team USA’s 2018 Olympic opening ceremony uniforms are — how should we phrase this — divisive.
Designed by iconic American brand Ralph Lauren, most of the outfit is perfectly fit for a Winter Olympics in South Korea. The jacket is water-repellant and packed with heat technology, the beanie looks quite cozy, the sweater underneath as patriotic as you can get.
“Ralph Lauren is excited by the convergence of fashion and function, and we are committed to supporting Team USA athletes by outfitting them with the latest innovative technology,” David Lauren, chief innovation officer for Ralph Lauren, said in a release. “We’re proud that we’ve worked so closely with the athletes, as well as the U.S. Olympic Committee, to keep evolving and improving. The uniform celebrates the American spirit, with iconic pieces updated with modern details and technical fabrications.”
What’s tripping people up, understandably, are the gloves: bulky suede with ample fringe. The Cut described them as “fringed brown suede explorer mitts that scream ‘dishwashing gloves, but make it USA,’” which is not inaccurate.
Whatever you think about those gloves, one issue we find with these uniforms is that they’re again designed by Ralph Lauren. Admittedly, the brand is relatively unproblematic and American, which is what really matters here. For the past few years, it’s been a sound choice, despite a 2012 scandal involving the uniforms themselves being made in China. (The 2018 uniforms are, according to the brand, entirely made in America.)
Regardless, we can’t help but think it’s time to give someone else or another brand a go.
Ralph Lauren was behind Team USA’s uniforms for the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing; the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, Canada; the 2012 Summer Olympics in London; the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia; the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro; and now the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea. The brand is reportedly signed on for the 2020 Olympics, too.
In our opinion, after 2020, it will be well past time to give another designer a shot. Even better, let’s make sure it’s a young American designer with a story to tell. Because if Team USA really is about young American talent, then why shouldn’t the designer of its uniforms also be a young American talent?
One good option would be Prabal Gurung, who was born in Singapore and immigrated to the U.S. to design gowns for former first lady Michelle Obama and Hollywood stars. Or perhaps Thakoon Panichgul, a designer known for whimsical womenswear who was born in Thailand and became a U.S. citizen.
There’s Christian Siriano, a young American designer who brought inclusive fashion to the forefront of New York Fashion Week, designing for women like Oprah as well as Lane Bryant and Payless customers.
There’s Rio Uribe, the designer behind Gypsy Sport, who grew up in Los Angeles and is also devoted to inclusivity in fashion. His shows often feature models of different sizes and identities showing off his wicked combinations of sportswear and streetwear.
There are so many options for designers who could be (pun intended) passed this torch. So when the time comes, let’s get a designer with not only a point of view and a daring aesthetic, but one with an important message to spread.