“The first time I put on the Team USA jersey with my teammates, I got chills,” Rico Roman of USA sled hockey said. “I’ll never forget that. It’s something special.”
What is it about uniforms that makes a sporting event so powerful, a team so motivated and a nation so proud?
The Olympics have always been the primal opportunity for nations to “strut their stuff” and represent their country cohesively and with class.
“What I’ve learned from my sport is endurance for the journey, having an impact and representing your country with pride and power,” Aja Evans of Team USA bobsledding said. “The moment we’re up there, and the uniform is on, all of those things come together.”
Athletes hold the honor of representing their country to the highest standard.
“There is truly no feeling like putting on the Team USA uniform for the first time,” USA figure skater Jason Brown. “It’s this feeling of camaraderie, teamwork and sportsmanship. It’s so much bigger than yourself.”
What’s Team USA wearing to the Olympics this year?
Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics
Watch all the action from the Beijing Olympics live on NBC
Team USA will be wearing Polo Ralph Lauren-designed attire for the 2022 Beijing Olympics.
The plan is for Team USA to wear red, white and blue buffalo plaid puffer jackets, American flag turtlenecks and fleece leggings or pants.
How has the uniform evolved over the years?
Uniforms have come a long way since the Olympics began back in 1896. There is a big difference between the attire worn at the 1920 Antwerp Games and the uniforms for the 2022 Beijing Games. Take a look at the evolution here.
In the beginning, the U.S. wore clothing that would be deemed a bit traditional and old-fashioned if worn today. In 1932, varsity sweaters and berets were debuted. In 1960, blue tracksuits were introduced to gymnasts, which has now become a U.S. staple. Suits and skirts were popular in 1972 and for the Lake Placid games in 1980, Levi Strauss & Co. implemented the “Old West” look for athletes. In 2004, Venus Williams rocked the cross-neck dress and matching visor by Reebok and in 2008 Ralph Lauren debuted their first look for the games, consisting of paperboy hats and navy blazers. Team USA paraded Ralph Lauren-designed “ugly Christmas sweaters” in Sochi in 2014, fringed camel-colored gloves for PyeongChang in 2018, and of course will be showing off their puffer down jackets for the Beijing 2022 Games.
What did Team USA wear in Tokyo 2020 during the Summer Olympics?
Team USA strutted not only Ralph Lauren … but also Kim Kardashian.
Kardashian’s Skims brand was asked to design clothing for female athlete’s downtime and for layering underneath their Olympic uniforms.
Caitlyn Jenner, stepfather of Kardashian and a former Olympian, took home the gold during the 1976 Summer Olympics in the decathlon. Ever since Kardashian was a child, she says she constantly felt the excitement and camaraderie of the games from her dad.
“When I received the call inviting Skims to be part of @TeamUSA, every moment I’ve spent admiring the strength and energy of the Olympians from the sidelines came full circle,” she said in an Instagram post from June 2020.
The designs were shared with the help of Team USA athletes Alex Morgan, A’ja Wilson, Scout Bassett, Dalilah Muhammad, and Haley Anderson.
Kardashian will also be lending her line for the February 2022 Games. In a recent Instagram post, Skims announced their new limited edition of sleepwear and loungewear for the female athletes participating in the 2022 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games.
Snowboarder Chloe Kim has been featured in Skims’ Team USA collection as well.
Who designs Olympic attire?
The official outfitter for Team USA is Polo Ralph Lauren. They design the attire worn in both the opening and closing ceremonies, as well as the village wear for everyday use during the Games.
How does Ralph Lauren design the attire?
For the 2018 games in PyeongChang, Better Team USA, a factory based in Clifton, N.J., created the opening and closing ceremony jackets, some of which included a new heating technology.
Rancourt & Co., headquartered in Lewiston, Maine, works with footwear and designed the 2016 boat shoes and 2020 sneakers for Team USA. For Beijing 2022, they will be producing the boots for the team.
Based in El Monte, Calif., Andari Fashion takes the lead on knit and sweater manufacturing. The company created the closing ceremony sweater and hats, which will be used for the Beijing games. They were also involved with knitwear for the Rio 2016, PyeongChang 2018 and Tokyo 2020.
And finally, Shaniko Wool Co., based in Shaniko, Ore., has designed the wool for the Beijing closing ceremony sweater.
Since the company was asked back in 2008, they have dressed more than 1,100 members of Team USA in American-made paradewear. It takes a total of seven hours to craft Team USA’s closing ceremony jacket. In order to produce the closing ceremony uniforms, 195 sets of hands are required.
Who pays for Team USA’s uniforms?
American athletes are not supported by federal funding like most other Olympic and Paralympic teams. Polo Ralph Lauren supports the team with their sales.
What kind of materials are used?
The materials used for Team USA’s uniforms are all sustainable and traceable.
Ralph Lauren uses source verified US-grown wool, recycled polyester, and recycled nylon. A specific recycled polyester used is called “repreve” and it is basically yarn made from plastic bottles, which the company uses for Team USA footwear. For the down jackets, the company crafts “primaloft black” to ensure warmth without the bulk of down, as well as recycled down material. And finally, for logos on the attire, a recycled polyester called “polartec” is used and made from plastic bottles.
What are other countries doing?
It seems as if each clothing creator matches the stylistic prose of the nation’s flag.
For instance, Polo Ralph Lauren prides itself in a lot of red, white and blue patterns within the normal clothing throughout the company, which translates into Team USA uniforms.
Canada’s attire is designed by Lululemon and the closing ceremony outfit highlights neutral beige and maroon colors. Again, these colors match Lululemon’s brand as their normal clothing lines tend to gravitate toward calm contrasts and neutral colors.
What do Beijing staff, volunteers, and technical officials have to wear to the games?
Beijing unveiled its official uniforms back in October, announcing that staff members would be dressed in Chinese aesthetics that combine Chinese ink paintings and winter sports. The specific uniforms were chosen out of 600 possibilities and after eight rounds of testing.
Color schemes will vary depending on the role. Technical officials will wear “Great Wall gray” to represent fairness and objectivity; volunteers will wear sky blue to showcase youth and vigor; and staff will wear black to implement a “down-to-earth” attitude.
The designer of the final uniform plan is He Yang, a professor at the Beijing Institute of Fashion Technology, who also assisted in the previous Beijing designs for the Summer Olympics in 2008.
“Uniform design must first convey the characteristics of the culture of the host country,” he said.