When athletes matched incredibly powerful performances with strong sartorial statements
We all have been glued to our TVs and laptops, cheering ‘Team India’ at the Olympics. It’s been such a high to see our favourite Indian sportspeople win glory in Tokyo. But as a designer, it was the other little things that put a smile on my face. For starters, seeing Olympic gold medalist Tom Daley quietly sitting in the stands and knitting his ‘Olympic cardigan’ that he would finally debut on Instagram. It was wholesome, elite and to be honest, brilliant.
Style has always been a strong focal point during the Olympics. It gives a sneak peek into the culture, tradition and heritage of a country. As I watched the opening ceremony I could not stop cheering over Ralph Lauren’s signature Team USA parade outfits in navy and stripe. It was everything American, polished and well put together. On the other hand, Giorgio Armani designed Italy’s opening ceremony outfits in red, white, and green with a graphic rising sun inspired by Pac Man. However, Team India’s parade outfits designed by Raymond came under heavy criticism for siding with political right-wing tones that left everyone underwhelmed.
I wish we had better fits, contemporary design inspirations, a celebratory colour palette and detailed ensembles. Different Indian brands and designers need to come forward to design better gear for individual sporting events. But there is always a next time. British clothing brand Ben Sherman was signed on to create Team Great Britain’s ceremonial outfits. They designed a Harrington jacket, a bomber jacket and a white polo shirt. Lacoste designed Team France’s Olympic uniform by infusing the brand’s sporting heritage with Japanese-inspired designs in navy, white and red.
Tool of resistance
A big fashion moment this year was singer Misia performing Japan’s national anthem in a rainbow-coloured tulle gown from designer Tomo Koizumi that left spectators awestruck. Another momentous announcement? When reality TV mogul Kim Kardashian’s brand SKIMS became the official design partner for athletic undergarments for Team USA. Then there are the sartorial stories that celebrated fashion wins alongside sporting triumphs. American track and field star Christina Clemons’s multicoloured butterflies in her hair buns along with gold dangling earrings were a joy.
Gymnast Pauline Schäfer wears a unitard on the beam
Fashion at the Olympics is about optimism, not victimisation; about engagement, not elitism; about style that radiates a sense of belonging; and about communicative strengths. For US hammer thrower Gwen Berry, it was an important moment when she raised her fist as a sign of resistance during the American national anthem. She did this in bright blue lips and full cover make-up that quickly made her trend as a lipstick icon on Twitter. Another instance was when the German gymnastics team came out with a bold stance against sexualisation through dress code. They opted out of the traditional bikini-cut design and chose to perform in a full-length leotard in pursuit of comfort and performance. Sporting fans all over the world applauded this sign of protest.