Fashion Reverie’s Summer 2021 Olympic Opening Ceremonies’ Uniform Roundup

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It’s time for the Summer 2021 Olympics in Tokyo , and it’s been a long time coming! Due to COVID-19, it had to be postponed from 2020.  This has changed many things about how the games will be run, not the least of which spectators will be few and far between.  Electric fans are banned for fears of air circulation increasing COVID transmission. Sha’Carri Richardson won’t be competing after testing positive for marijuana use with Olympics officials calling it a ‘performance-enhancing drug’. (Is shot gunning Doritos an Olympic sport now?)  And we haven’t even arrived at the uniforms.  

In the past, outfits worn during the opening ceremony have ranged from boring to bizarre.  While this year’s uniforms are somewhat tamer, with many countries simply choosing to forgo traditional unveiling ceremonies to the press, we’ll see some stand-out fashion and uniforms that will make you slap your head and say, “what were they thinking?”  

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Team USA 

This year’s opening ceremony uniforms were designed by Ralph Lauren—who has been designing Olympics uniforms since 2008—with classic Polo shirts with a traditional red, white and blue palette (strong emphasis on the white).  The blinding snow-white shirts, jeans, and windbreakers are available for sale online. Perhaps Team USA is looking for a product tie-in with Tide Pens? Ralph Lauren did take advantage of the time extension to add some high-tech to the opening ceremony garments.  Jackets will contain RL COOLING technology—a battery-powered device inserted into the back of the jacket giving the wearer a shot of cold to the base of the neck. 

Image courtesy of National Post

Team Canada  

If Team USA Uniforms were bland but functional, Team Canada’s uniforms would have achieved a unique feat. Pretty everyone hates them.  Sabrina Maddeaux designed the garments featuring jean jackets with faux graffiti in red and white. Sold by iconic Canadian company Hudson Bay who bizarrely decided to pair with Levi—does it get more American? —for manufacturing.  Furious Canadians are posting op-ed’s about how much they hate the uniforms. How horrible does something have to be to enrage the most polite country on the globe?

Image courtesy of Times of Israel

Team Israel 

Created for the Team by Israeli fashion company Castro, the athletes will don transparent jackets, classic white chinos, and printed tee shirts.  While Castro claims the tee shirt design, a sharp white V with different shades of blue on the sleeves, was inspired by the Star of David, looking at the tee it’s hard to see how. The colors were clearly inspired by the Israel flag. At least with those transparent windbreakers, they are covered in case of a sudden rainstorm.  

Image courtesy of China Daily

Team Australia 

Australia’s iconic fashion and lifestyle brand, Sportscraft, was selected as the official uniform supplier of the 2020 Australian Olympic Team yet again, and the result are … inoffensive. The hunter green shorts and skirts combined with white shirts with bright yellow accents reflect the country’s flag. Men oddly wear pale grey blazers with dark green ties because … why? Are the men going to their office jobs after the ceremony? While the women’s bright-colored neck scarves seem a bit like overkill, it’s preferable to those ill-fitting blazers. 

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Team Italy 
Seriously, Armani you were SO close.  The legendary design house was once again tapped to create Italy’s uniforms. The black tracksuits feature soft jersey jackets and pants that sport the word ‘Italia’ written on them. Armani, who has designed Italy’s uniforms since London 2012, was quoted by Inside the Games saying, “I always find it stimulating to look for new solutions for athletes’ uniforms, which must be stylishly elegant, yet also practical to use.” Too bad the circle shape with Italian flag colors on the torso gave the athletes, with their fit, sculpted bodies, thick waists. Oh well. 

Image courtesy of CNN

Team Great Britain
Well, that’s more like it! Great Britain has had a tumultuous few years with the election of Boris Johnson, Brexit, and Prince Harry’s fleeing to California. These Olympic duds, created by famed design house Ben Sherman after Stella McCartney passed the torch, will no doubt bring a lot of British pride. Inspired by the psychedelic youth movement of 1960s, the deeply stylish yet extremely practical garments feature the red white and blue of the Union Jack, with comfortable, yet sleek-looking pants, shorts, and polo shirts. The standout is the soft jacket that features pinstripe detailing in national colors and a back embellished with a roaring lion—Britain’s national emblem that dates back to the 11th century.

The words that inspired the collection, “Strength Through Unity,” are printed inside the animal’s mane in a retro “Summer of Love” font.  With the games originally scheduled for 2020, the fact that both the uniforms and the fashion in the recent film “Cruella” were both inspired by 1960 trends is surely a coincidence, but what a fabulous one! 

Image courtesy of Reuters

Team Japan 

Japan’s uniforms are fine. Japan debuted their uniforms last year and there is no word that they are expected to change them.  The uniforms are distinctly subtle, inverting the “sunrise red” jacket and white trousers of Tokyo’s 1964 opening ceremony uniform to white on the top, red on the bottom, as a reference to the Japanese flag. They also appeared alongside the Para Olympic team in the same uniforms, a first according to Olympic officials, although other countries quickly followed suit. Japan can be forgiven for reworking old uniforms. Getting ready for the games, especially in light of COVID, must be a terrible time suck! 

Image courtesy of Prague Morning

Team Czech 

Designer Zuzana Osako is proud of her design for Team Czech Republic; however, others are not so happy. The design uses a print made from hand-dyed indigo and block printing technique known in the Czech Republic as “blueprint.” Osako incorporated the Czech team’s symbol of gymnast Vera Caslavska, who won three gold medals and a silver at the 1964 Tokyo Olympics, in the print. The real kicker is the handheld fan—ironically due to COVID concerns electric fans are banned due to concerns about air circulation. Because they are in … Japan, is that a reference to Geishas? Team Czech may quickly learn the razor-thin edge between “homage’ and ‘deeply problematic cultural appropriation’ in a rather unpleasant way.  

Image courtesy of Taiwan News

Team Russia 

Now we’re talking! Team Russia turned lemons into lemonade. With their flag banned from the next two Olympics—it’s very confusing, apparently Moscow didn’t turn over proper reports on their drug testing facilities, but the IOC isn’t banning athletes?  If you can figure it out, let Fashion Reverie know—Russia took advantage of a loophole and put their flag’s red, white, and blue colors on their uniforms and mimicked their flag with geometric designs. The zippered tracksuits are vibrant and flattering, yet, oh so practical.  

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Team Liberia 

If there is any name that could kick the 2021 Olympic Opening Ceremony into the world of high fashion, it’s Telfar Clemens! Clemens’ name will be familiar to anyone waiting for the next “it” bag. He’s emerged as one of America’s most exciting designers thanks to his signature vegan leather tote bag with his logo on the front.

Clemens has already given us a preview of the Opening Ceremony uniforms and the pieces look AMAZING. The Brooklyn native of Liberian descent has created 70 pieces for the team, including sweats, unitards, duffel bags, and track spikes. The Liberian flag colors and symbols are featured throughout, along with Telfar’s logo. Fashion Reverie has never been so excited for the 2021 Olympic Opening Ceremony! 

—Cameron Grey Rose

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