Ralph Lauren dressing U.S. athletes in winter Olympics in red, white and blue
Ralph Lauren's affinity for Americana will be on full display on athletes at the Winter Olympics in Vancouver, British Columbia - complete with red, white and blue, stars-and-stripes flags and, of course, polo ponies.
Polo Ralph Lauren began its strategic unveiling of its outfits for athletes last month. The closing-ceremony parade outfit includes a mostly red and blue shawl-collar sweater with antique buttons, a newsboy cap, a plaid shirt for the men, and a navy ribbed turtleneck for the women.
Long-sleeve T-shirts with big bold graphics printed on the chest are part of the Olympic Village wardrobe, as well as white warm-up jackets with red and blue stripes down the sleeves and old-school alpine ski sweaters decorated with reindeer.
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"We took a lot of inspiration from the 1930s games, reaching into the heyday of the Olympics and bringing to a more modern sensibility," said David Lauren, the company's senior vice president of advertising, marketing and communications.
The company dressed the American athletes for the summer games two years ago and has signed on with the U.S. Olympic Committee through 2012 in London to provide ceremonial clothes as well as recreational looks. It's also creating the outfits for the Paralympic teams.
As far as performance uniforms during actual competition, Ralph Lauren isn't ready to get into that game yet because of the technical aspects of the clothes.
Many of the items also are available to the public, said David Lauren, who called the Olympics the "ultimate branding opportunity."
"There's an interest in what athletes are wearing, but what people really want is what's commemorative, so they can hold on to something that's a piece of history," he said.
At the Beijing games, Lauren said he was mistaken for an athlete in an elevator because he was wearing the same flag-bearing styles - the highlight of a memorable trip. "For one brief moment, I could put myself in the shoes of an Olympic athlete," he said.
(His real talent, he joked, is "spectating.")