The Importance of The Olympic Team Uniforms and The Designers Who Make Them



Photo: Berluti

As we countdown to the 2024 Paris Olympics, we finally see some team uniforms and designers of the garments worn by each nation’s finest athletes. This year, the global sporting event is being held at none other than the city of Paris. The world’s fashion capital along with the appropriately fitting official sponsor of fashion industry giant LVMH. We are now months away from the Summer Olympics, and excitement is building, with brands and countries unveiling their team uniforms, one after the other. While some have opted for garments designed by foreign talent, there is beauty in having uniforms made by brands from their respective countries.

A nation’s chosen designer for the official team uniform is an opportunity for them to garner millions of eyes on their designs. However, its effect goes much deeper than what meets the eye. The most significant stage of sports presents us with a nation’s sporting legends along with young newcomers and Paralympians. Regardless of experience, sponsorships, age and gender, these athletes are all united by a shared nationality, donning the same uniform, crest and flag. Furthermore, team uniforms are especially meaningful for the opening and closing ceremonies, where all athletes participate wearing the formal team uniform — the only events where all athletes from one country are in the same place simultaneously.

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Ralph Lauren for Team USA

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The Olympic opening ceremony is a pivotal moment in the 18-day event, setting the tone for the athletes. Wearing a brand that originates from their home country, fosters a sense of camaraderie within a team and pride in a nation’s heritage. A prime example is Ralph Lauren’s enduring partnership with Team USA, a brand that has been dressing the team since 2008. Ralph Lauren’s association with American heritage embodies the American dream and its timeless, preppy style that is heavily influenced by the West. The brand’s all-American aesthetic is reinforced by the flag’s red, white, and blue, It symbolises a united show of national pride and instills confidence in a patriotic group of talents. Thus, this partnership is a testament to the authenticity and mutual benefits of collaborations between fashion brands and athletes.

Berluti for Team France

Photo: Berluti

This year is a particularly noteworthy Olympics for the French athletes who are going for gold in their home country. Team France has the home field advantage, teaming up with official sponsor LVMH and French fashion house Berluti to outfit France’s finest sportsmen and women. The French Maison’s finest artisans were tasked with the meaningful job of showcasing the exceptional calibre of the house and the selected French athletes. The 1,500 outfits were designed in France, with high-quality fabrics exclusively sourced from Europe. Recognising the immense importance and excitement these uniforms represent, the Berluti team consulted with the athletes to meticulously cater to individuals of all builds and preferences. As reported by LVMH, the specially-made outfits act as a physical manifestation to invoke patriotic pride and belonging among the athletes and coaches to motivate them to live up to their ambitions.

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Ben Sherman for Team Great Britian

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Team GB has ensued the expertise of English designer Ben Sherman, best known for his unmistakable British identity and symbol of the old English style. The official varsity jacket incorporates the Great Britain flag colours and features unique flower motifs. Embroidered on the back of the jacket, four flowers representing the four nations of the UK: a rose for England, a thistle for Scotland, a daffodil for Wales and a Shamrock for Northern Ireland. The united floral design signifies a group of athletes from the four nations coming together to fight for a common cause. Additionally, Ben Sherman keeps the athletes’ comfort in mind, celebrating tradition with his quintessential preppy style and blending it with modern streetwear influences, resulting in a Union Jack-clad polo and a baggy varsity jacket. Walking out onto a global stage sporting modern designs rooted in British heritage embraces tradition and instills unity and pride especially in the younger generation.

Emporio Armani for Team Italy

Photo: Emporio Armani

Italian designer Giorgio Armani has been designing for Team Italy since 2012. Emporio Armani is best known for its classic Italian style and has always emphasised their country’s rich heritage in using traditional Italian manufacturing processes and Italian materials. The Olympic kits were unveiled as apart of the House’s Spring/Summer ’24 collection, featuring rich navy blue tracksuits complemented by red and white detailing. Big “Italia” lettering was also printed, front and centre of the uniform. Additionally, the Italian house pays attention to detail in subtly incorporating patriotic pride in its small details: polos and T-shirts feature the opening of the national anthem and jacket linings are printed with the first verse. According to the designer himself, the creation of functional yet elegant garments was designed to “distinguish the team and to convey a strong sense of belonging to our athletes.”

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Lululemon for Team Canada

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The canadian-born athleisure brand has just released its first-ever summer Olympics kit for Team Canada; as explained by CEO Calvin McDonald, the process started with an innovation-first approach based on athletes’ insights to ensure they feel and perform their best at the global sporting event. Made with Canadian-inspired prints, each product has undergone a testing and feedback process to suit an athlete’s unique needs based on their sport. The personalised experience and deepened relationship between the brand and the athletes allows them to look and feel good. Due to the connection between the team and Lululemon, designers have gone the extra mile to enable them to perform to the best of their abilities for their country.

When it comes to designing a country’s team kits, a selected designer plays a significant role in the psychological aspects of an athlete and their team. Team kits have the ability to affect an individual’s pride, confidence and sense of belonging. These factors can greatly contribute to one’s sporting performance, as an athlete’s success is much more than athleticism. Hence, these factors should contain the unique essence of a nation’s heritage to allow athletes and viewers to resonate with the pride and love one has for their country. United by similar goals, uniform outfitters go the extra mile to motivate the teams through personalised relationships and attention to detail.

Additionally, there is a mutual benefit in teaming up with a brand of the same country. The connections are not just in the athletes but also in the shared sense of pride and confidence. This can lead to enhanced performance, increasing the chances of stepping on the prestigious podium. Winners of sporting events garner more attention and recognition, more eyes on the individual means more eyes on the garments, creating a win-win situation for both the team and the brand.

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