The Olympics seem a surprisingly corporate bandwagon for the fashion industry to jump aboard.
But while the rest of us worry about, oh you know, the controversial issue of sponsorship deals with McDonald's and Coca-Cola and the inevitable destruction of Stratford, designers are focussing on what really counts: clothes. From the second it was announced that Stella McCartney would be creating the team GB kit (and hats off to her, the designs involve a slick reinvention of the union jack in a palette of blue), it became apparent that these games would be about more than just sport. Putting up a fair fight, the label synonymous with American style Ralph Lauren, last week released images of its official Team USA Opening Ceremony Parade Uniform, modelled by swimmer Ryan Lochte, decathlete Bryan Clay, rower Giuseppe Lanzone and soccer player Heather Mitts.
And it’s not just about what the athletes will be wearing. Since the beginning of the year, fashion and sport have collided to create an explosion of offerings, ranging from the genuinely interesting to the financially opportunistic.
At the former end of the spectrum is Vivienne Westwood’s nod to Greek antiquity for the Menswear Spring/Summer collection. Here we see a genuinely passable application of Olympic-mania: pot paintings of a BC relay-team passing the baton, printed on black cotton t-shirts with the iconic Westwood logo sneakily tucked away in there to boot. In their fairly oblique reference to the games, these designs stand a chance of appealing far into the months ahead. But unfortunately, the same cannot be said for other items in the collection. The medal-printed tees worn by wreath-sporting models were perhaps a bit more obvious, and therefore less wearable, although try telling that to infinite number of highstreet stores that have adapted the idea.
Then of course there is the collaboration between Adidas and the (aptly titled, but no pun intended) Opening Ceremony, to coincide with the store launching its London flagship. Inspired by the 90s, the Olympic-themed collection uses paisley bandana-inspired prints and incorporates elements from the swimming, cycling and skating events. There is also Supra’s “London shoe”, which follows a union-jack colour scheme of blue mesh, red accents and white Suprafoam sole. This in particular is a case of the Olympic-inspiration going beyond novelty-value to create something more timeless, all thanks to some classic design and subtle application of theme.
Designers making more general inroads into the world of sport include Prada who went golf galore with their kitschy, 50s-inspired Spring/Summer Collections. Multi-coloured, stud-spangled golfing shoes, loose-fitting, easy-to-wear floral print trousers and flat-caps have been the preferred get-up of men ever since the designs were first revealed earlier this year. A lot less interesting are the (nameless) list of brands that have drawn on the Olympic theme with comparatively little imagination: slapping a St. George’s flag here, waving the odd medal around there. If you want to see that done properly, check out Aitor Throup’s designs for Umbro earlier this year.
Our favourite bit of Olympics inspired fashion though has to be the limited edition Gold, Silver and Bronze collection by Miu Miu. The accessories line includes sandals, clutches, purses and bags and will be sold at select Miu Miu outlets across London from 27th July until the end of August.