Olympic Fashion

August 13, 2008 Katja Presnal


Jamie Squire/Getty Images
Members of the United States Olympic Tae Kwando team
of the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing.

Despite the odds and controversy in the media, I think it is just wonderful that this year Ralph Lauren designed the Olympic uniforms for the U.S. Olympic Team.

Doesn’t Ralph Lauren represent “All-American” better than any other designer?

I know, I know. The Polo Pony was too big, the uniforms were actually cheaply made in China, not back home.. many people are feeling more of a marketing spirit than a sporting spirit with Ralph Lauren’s uniforms. Not to mention that the school / country club uniform style lacked imagination (see below how other nations had the same traditional take on the Olympic opening ceremony uniforms). Yes, I’ve heard it.

But what can I say … I am a marketing girl, and in love with Ralph Lauren, and think the American Olympic team looked sporty and sophisticated. Isn’t that the image that we would like to voice out…? Or maybe couture would have been better..?


Dior Haute Couture, photo: Peter Lindbergh

If you are feeling the Olympic spirit, and want to support the American Olympic Team, head to closest Ralph Lauren store or Polo.com and check out the Olympic clothing collection. If you like the uniform jacket above and want to own a piece of Olympic history – act fast; the women’s is sold only at the stores, and men’s style is already sold out. This gear looks much better than the Roots Olympic gear sold at Targets during the last Olympics.


Olympic Games Skinny Polo with the classic polo pony and the U.S. Olympic Team logo, 125$


The American Olympic Team will wear this Closing Ceremony Uniform


US Shield Fleece Half-Zip is for men, but I would wear it! 145$


Olympic Games Fleece Pullover is great back to school sweater for a sporty girl, 125$


The Finnish Olympic Team at the opening ceremony of the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing.

My other favorite Olympic Team is wearing a national stable of their own. The women in the Finnish Olympic Team were dressed in Marimekko dresses for the opening ceremony. The men’s uniform is so boring, but at least the women show national pride in the modern print. The dress is a new spin from Maija Louekari’s Pisaroi print, and the dress from Samu-Jussi Koski’s collection from last year.

And can you buy this dress anywhere? No!

So let me get this straight. Ralph Lauren’s logo is huge on the opening ceremony uniforms, Ralph Lauren’s website has “Olympics” written all over their website, and their stores, and they didn’t just design the Olympic uniforms, they also designed a street wear collection. Marimekko? I can not find any information on Marimekko’s website about the Olympic involvement, nor the clothing or any variation of it is for sale anywhere. Unless you get lucky and find the last year’s Omra dress with the Pisaroi print.

And just so you understand – Marimekko in Finland is even more respected and better known than Ralph Lauren in the U.S. This a perfect example how a well known company does the marketing right – and another one totally misses an amazing opportunity for marketing, PR and ultimately sales.


Marimekko Pisaroi Dress on sale for 255$.

The British Olympic team looked cute in their own preppy uniforms, but instead of bringing the sporty-but-sophisticated-look, they look more like an airline crew for British Airways with their handbags.


Paul Gilham/Getty Images

The French people could never bring a fashion disappointment. Their opening ceremony uniforms just say “French” with the grey jackets and the hats. The wrap belt in the women’s uniform offers a splash of Asian culture giving the ultimately very French outfit an Asian touch respecting the host nation China.

Of course, the American team could have not dressed in such a traditional uniform, they could have been dressed in more imaginative, colorful and more global discussion provoking outfits. Like the Hungarians and Australians did…


Jonathan Gerrey/Getty Images


Adam Pretty/Getty Images

Resources and photos:
About.com
Harper’s Bazaar

Katja Presnal

Katja Presnal shows how to live Nordic inspired life to the fullest and plan your dream life. Katja owns Presnal5 strategic marketing intelligence agency and wants to help marketing professionals to combine a dream career and dream life via freelance work.Katja is an award-winning marketing strategist, and a well-known speaker. Katja has lived in five different countries, and seven states in the USA. Her three children were all born in different countries within three years. When not working or jet-setting the world, Katja is at home cooking big family dinners.She has been featured in NY Times, Glamour, Redbook, Fodor's, Forbes and Woman's Day magazines among many other national and international publications and written for MTV3 and Lifetime TV networks.

Comments (4)

  1. christina

    you can find some of the marimekko olympics items for sale in finland! unfortunately there is no dress, but an umbrella, a tshirt, a blouse and a tie can be bought in almost all the marimekko stores as well as others…

  2. Naomi

    So let me know if you find a hook-up with the shortest, roundest Finnish Olympian so I can steal her dress…

  3. jane - mom generations

    Oh, I love this, Katja! Leave it to you to give a fashion run-down of the Opening Ceremonies! I didn’t know that Ralph Lauren designed the US uniforms, but it does make a whole lotta sense. I loved the All-American look. I also loved the uniforms for the French team. Oui, oui! :-)

    Jane

  4. Momma to LG

    I loved the US uniforms. Just as an aside, Ralph Lauren has been making shirts with the BIG horse for awhile now. Most golfers that wear Ralph shirts have had the bigger logo for the past year so he didn’t purposely big a huge logo for the Olympics. I know that you didn’t say that but I wonder if some people think that.

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