//Olympics 2024

Fashion In The Olympics: 5 Standout Uniforms Over The Years

Fashion in the Olympics is nothing new. With the Paris Olympics set to take it up a notch, we look back to past Olympic fashion moments.

The 2024 Paris Olympics is set to be supported by multiple high-fashion brands, such as Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton and Omega, among many others — fitting, given that Paris is one of the biggest fashion capitals in the world.

With this, early on, we can already expect French Olympians to be provided kits from LVMH’s fashion houses. And while this has been the talk of the town in the leadup to the Opening Ceremony of this year’s Summer Games, fashion in the Olympics is nothing new. Designers have been creating uniforms for teams in past iterations.

Here’s a quick list of past, standout Olympic uniforms ahead of what is expected to be a fashion-heavy Paris 2024. 

Team Liberia, Tokyo 2020 
Culture mixed with sportswear takes center stage in Telfar’s Team Liberia uniforms. (Photo Credit: Jason Nocito via Telfar on Instagram)

Let’s start off with Team Liberia’s Tokyo 2020 uniforms, made by Liberian-American designer Telfar Clemens’ and his Telfar fashion label. The collaboration was made possible after Liberian sprinter Emmanuel Matudi discovered Clemens’ Liberian roots. 

As expected, the pieces take inspiration from the Liberian flag, and its colors of blue, red, and white. Select pieces also feature a large star by the chest-to-arm area, an obvious homage to the lone star on the flag, alongside a large “LIBERIA” print. 

Standout pieces include the long, unisex gown-like attire that comes in any of the flag’s three colors. There were also their tracksuits, including a one-shoulder variant, which came in a baby blue and white color.

Fashion in the Olympics: Telfar x Liberia
Liberia’s tracksuits for context. (Photo Credit: Jason Nocito via Telfar on Instagram)

But this collaboration is more than just a fashion statement. Based on a New York Times report, Liberia had to “scrounge for sponsorships” before Tokyo, until Telfar became their “technical sponsor”. 

While Liberia failed to win any medals in Tokyo, it’s guaranteed that they and Telfar have just established their Olympic fashion legacy. 

Team GB, Rio 2016
Fashion in the Olympics: Stella McCartney x Team GB
Stella McCartney upped her game for Team UK’s Rio campaign. (Photo Credit: Stella McCartney on Instagram)

Second on our list is Team GB’s Rio Olympics uniforms by homegrown designer Stella McCartney in collaboration with Adidas — her second following the London Olympics in 2012.

At its core, McCartney’s Rio Olympics uniforms feature a brand new coat of arms for Team GB created by the College of Arms. This was then incorporated with the Union Jack flag and the national colors of red, white, and blue.

If anything, it was an improvement over her London Olympics design, which had a predominantly blue Union Jack flag as its main motif. At the time, the London Olympics uniforms were criticized for a “lack of color red” in the Union Jack.

And it was not just McCartney that stepped up. In the Rio Olympics, Team GB snagged a total of 67 medals, built on 27 golds, 23 silvers, and 17 bronzes. While two gold medals less than London, it was a two-medal improvement in the final tally. 

Team Germany, Sochi 2014 
Fashion in the Olympics: 2014 Germany
Did Team Germany’s Winter Olympics outfit have a deeper meaning? (Photo Credit: Team Deutschland on Facebook)

Germany was hard to ignore in the Sochi Winter Olympics in 1994. After all, the team wore colorful puffer jackets and pants for their opening ceremonies. Puffer jackets were composed of yellow, green, white, and blue tones. Male athletes topped this off with white pants, and headwear with matching colors as the jacket, while female athletes did so with floral pants and headwear.

While nothing was confirmed, several outlets interpreted the outfits as a sneaky protest to Russia’s anti-LGBT laws, which were passed in June 2013. 

In the Games itself, Germany snagged a total of 19 medals, composed of eight gold, six silver, and five bronze medals, good for sixth overall in the standings.

Team USA/Nancy Kerrigan, Lillehammer 1994 
Fashion in the Olympics: Nancy Kerrigan
Legendary figure skater Nancy Kerrigan dazzled in Lillehammer. (Photo Credit: Nancy Kerrigan on Instagram)

Of course, we can’t go through a list of fashion statements in the Olympics without mentioning Vera Wang. For this, we decided to pick one of Wang’s creations for figure skater Nancy Kerrigan in Lillehammer Winter Olympics in 1994.

In particular, it was the off-white/champagne-colored dress with nearly 12,000 heat-pressed rhinestones. The dress was worn during the free skate portion of the ladies’ single skate competition that year.

And the creation was just about perfect for Kerrigan. Alongside the beauty of her technique, was the sparkling of the rhinestones, which in turn created a great complement during her free skate performance. 

While she only won a silver medal even with that performance, Lillehammer marked Kerrigan’s return from an attack that bruised her right knee a month before–orchestrated by her rival Tonya Harding’s then-husband. 

Team Lithuania, Barcelona 1992 
Fashion in the Olympics: Issey Miyake x Lithuania
Issey Miyake likely holds a place in Lithuania’s history books. (Photo Credit: Hidden Archive on Facebook)

In an unlikely collaboration, Team Lithuania’s Barcelona Olympics opening ceremony uniforms were designed by the late Japanese designer Issey Miyake. Most notably, this marked Lithuania’s return to the Olympics following the Soviet Union breakup. 

And if anything, it was just right that they had the connections to an already-renowned designer at the time. Lithuania’s Olympic uniform was designed to incorporate details from its national flag, and both international and local spellings of the country. 

Lithuania’s uniforms were complete with Issey Miyake’s signature pleats — one of the more recognizable fashion staples even today. 

As a bonus, we’re also including their bronze-medal-winning basketball team’s uniforms. Besides being the “Other Dream Team”, Lithuania’s Barcelona Olympics basketball team is just as remembered for wearing shirts courtesy of the rock band, The Grateful Dead. 

Lithuania’s men’s basketball team were bronze medal winners AND fashion icons. (Photo Credit: Olympics)

Those shirts? Tie-dyed in Lithuania’s national colors of yellow, green, and red, and topped off by a dunking skeleton in a Lithuania jersey. 

Simply put, the Barcelona Olympics was a treat for Lithuania. It was their first time since 1928 to actually be Lithuania. Alongside this were two medals, and a fashion legacy still relevant today. 

Banner image courtesy from Jason Nocito via Telfar on Instagram. 

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