Ralph Lauren unveils Olympic uniforms that will light the way for Team USA

Ralph Lauren debuted Team USA’s 2016 Olympic uniforms complete with blazers, boat shoes and new light-up technology … do you like the new look?

The opening ceremony flag bearer jacket with electroluminescent panels by Polo Ralph Lauren. Poloralphlauren | Instagram

Ralph Lauren and the U.S. Olympic committee have just unveiled the uniforms for the opening ceremony parade and for Team USA’s flag bearer, and they couldn’t be more patriotic if they tried. The team will wear white denim jeans, blue blazers, and red, white and blue striped tees. Because they’re designed by Ralph Lauren, who’s spent a lifetime defining an insouciant lounging-on-a-New England-dock type of all-American style, the uniforms will naturally include boat shoes, cotton bracelets, and grosgrain belts.

All-American style: The official, American-made #TeamUSA opening ceremony outfit, at Team Processing in Houston. #RoadtoRio

A photo posted by @poloralphlauren on

The show-stopper, however, is the flag bearer’s jacket, which features electroluminescent panels. (Translation: the jacket actually glows.) David Lauren, an executive VP at Ralph Lauren says, “The flag bearer jacket will literally light the way for Team USA.”

That’s pretty nifty. But not everyone is a fan of Ralph Lauren’s now eight-year gig designing these uniforms. Christina Cauterucci, writing for Slate, dissed the closing ceremony uniforms, calling them “straight out of private-school central casting.” She also notes that the 2012 uniforms were made in China, which was probably a public-relations no-no.

The Federalist describes the athletes wearing the apparel as looking like, “they got lost in Nantucket.” Others jokingly asked if the Olympics are in the Hamptons this year. All in all, there’s some humor surrounding the uniforms, but most in good-fun, and for some people, the outfits feel right on point, and GQ called them “seriously cool.”

Ralph Lauren Closing ceremony Uniforms Rio 2016

Plus, this year, Ralph Lauren has included a video on the making of the team’s boat shoes, executed by a family of Maine cobblers (is there anything more American than the phrase “a family of Maine cobblers”?) which admittedly is rather heartwarming, especially as Lauren says they are “continuing [their] commitment to making the official opening and closing ceremony uniforms in America.”

Bottom line: Ralph Lauren is an iconic American designer, and no one does red, white and blue—or summer, for that matter—quite like he does. When the flag bearer lights the way this Friday, I bet that even the stiffest of upper lips will be quivering.

Leigh Anderson
Leigh Anderson
Leigh Anderson is the author of "The Games Bible: The Rules, The Gear, The Strategies" (Workman, 2010) and has written for Vox, Newsweek.com, and Popular Science, among others.

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