Ralph Lauren got another shot at the Olympic Rings this year to design the U.S. Olympic Athletes’ clothing, or as I like to refer to his “designer” duds for 2014; costumes. After the 2012 London Olympics fiasco which declared Lauren, or maybe he just declared himself “The Official Outfitter of the U.S. Olympic Teams for London 2012″ but neglected to tell us the clothing was made in China, I thought maybe they would just choose J Crew or Gap or Old Navy who already get their stuff from China and other places I can’t even pronounce, pre-designed.
Most of the world already views the U.S. as conspicuous consumers and Lauren’s design does little to dispel this. Americans are also thought to be loud and brash in some circles and in particular, the design of the over-the-top patriotic red, white and blue sweater is as loud and brash as they come. There are so many stars and stripes and red, white and blue things on this sweater you expect it to start singing Bruce Springsteen songs. The hat is equally as garish looking but I suppose the idea was a plethora of sweater knit stuff that kinda-sorta-almost matched, like a patchwork quilt–but not. Oh yeah, white sweatpants complete the outfit. Those snooty French are still snickering. I don’t think they even allow sweatpants in France.
Lauren has long been thought of as the purveyor of understated elegance. His designs used to typify what most called “the classics.” In the 2012 Olympics his clothing for the opening and closing Olympic ceremony for the athletes was navy blazers and berets. The berets looked decidedly French and the blazers looked like the athletes just came from the polo club. Oh yeah that’s right, his signature brand is the polo pony. Nice way to get your brand in the Olympics Ralph, by way of China.
While the Olympic sweater design would surely win the ugly sweater contest hands down we have much more serious potential problems for our athletes. The Olympic Committee (the bright stars that chose Sochi, Russia) and the U.S. State Department are telling the athletes not to wear any conspicuous U.S.A. clothing while traveling or anywhere outside the Olympic Village as a safety/security measure. I hope these terrific athletes and their families will be safe wearing whatever they feel comfortable in as our athletes don’t need a red, white and blue ugly sweater to stand out, they do it with their American spirit, dedication to their sport and talent. Maybe a new younger designer with those same qualities can design for the U.S. Olympic athletes next time.