I don’t pretend to understand the ins and outs of outfit designs for the Olympics. I am not a designer nor am I an athlete. But please, someone make the Ralph Lauren-designed Opening Ceremony outfits for Team USA at the 2021 Olympics make sense.
On July 14, the American designer revealed the full slate of attire for Team USA, including the Opening Ceremony outfits set to make their physical debut on Friday, July 23 and a separate design for the flag bearers. The former design includes all the usual patriotic Ralph Lauren trappings: a structured blazer with an embroidered USA patch (to convey global ambassadorship, according to David Lauren, Ralph Lauren’s chief brand and innovation officer); a nautical navy striped shirt; and an American flag ascot. Streamlined, professional and overall very nice, right? On the surface, yes, but anyone under a wool blazer in the Tokyo heat likely won’t feel very nice.
In response to that minor detail, the fashion house introduced brand-new technology in the form of a cooling jacket. In other words, Ralph Lauren worked a custom system into the structure of jacket that self-regulates the temperature to keep the wearer cool at all times. The white denim jacket, which features a Team USA emblem printed on the back, includes the cooling vent just under the collar. The brand hopes such technology will be more widely available in the future. “The more we can think about our personal space and personal thermal dynamics, that’s the future that we’re all going to have to think about,” Lauren told the Associated Press.
In theory — and likely in execution, too — such technology is an innovative solution to professional wear that’s not conducive to warmer temps. Unfortunately, though, the technology also won’t be available to most of Team USA until after the Tokyo Games. Rather, only Team USA’s flag bearers will be able to sport the new wearable tech. Presumably, the rest of the team will just... be hot during the parade?
When the outfits were first unveiled, in between the oohs and aahs, a few voices of reason on Twitter begged a fair question: Why not just provide the athletes with an inherently comfier and cooler (figuratively and literally) outfit? A beautifully-designed button-up shirt? A crisp polo, perhaps? At least ditch the ascot? Anything with short sleeves to combat the anticipated 95-degree heat? Someone, just, please explain.
A collector of blazers myself, I love a good ~business lewk~ as much as the next person. But I also love not sweating. This could very well be my sartorial ignorance talking.
You can shop the entire Ralph Lauren 2021 Team USA Olympics collection — including the Opening Ceremony outfits, the Closing Ceremony outfits, and the more casual village wear — on its website now. Otherwise, catch these looks when they make their debut at the Olympics on July 23.