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Nine of the most stylish kits the athletes will be wearing at the Paris Olympics 2024

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01 July 2024, 10:40 PM

Nine of the most stylish kits the athletes will be wearing at the Paris Olympics 2024If you're not familiar with Left on Friday, you might well be by the end of the summer. The premium active swimwear brand is kitting out Canada's volleyball team. Photo: Left on Friday via RNZ

By Megan Lawton, BBC

Paris, a city synonymous with fashion, and this summer the Paris 2024 Olympics and Paralympic Games. But that's not where the overlap ends - ahead of the Games, there's an exhibition in the French capital celebrating the relationship between fashion and sport.

Separately, Vogue France has dedicated a front cover to the occasion, and the magazine staged a Vogue World celebration in the city. With the labels behind uniforms raising their game for the fashion capital, we've rounded up some of the most notable team kits.

1. Team Canada in lululemon

This year, Team Canada will wear one of the country's most famous brands, lululemon, for both the ceremonies and podium moments. Looking at the kit from afar, the standout theme is shades of red, but zoom a little closer and you'll start to notice the intricate print detailing. There's both flora and fauna in the print to showcase the country's vast and varied landscape. For fashion and design commentator Elizabeth Segrani, it's "the perfect kit".

Team Canada in the Paris Olympic official uniform by Lulumelon. Photo: Lulumelon via RNZ

She tells the BBC, "Canada's population has become increasingly diverse, and I really think lululemon thought about ways to portray that diversity, and to help the athletes feel connected to their fellow athletes."

Segrani is particularly impressed by the print being used for the closing ceremony. "That was designed by an Indigenous artist (Mason Mashon, from the Saddle Creek Cree Nation), and shows the aurora borealis in this really cool, fashion-forward, meaningful way".

2. Team Canada (part 2) in Left on Friday

Team Canada gets two honourable mentions here, as one of the countries choosing a start-up brand to design some of their competing uniforms. If you're not familiar with Left on Friday, you might well be by the end of the summer. The premium active swimwear brand is kitting out Canada's volleyball team.

Shannon Savage designed the kit with Laura Lo Ah Key and tells the BBC that it's a dream come true to have their brand associated with, what she calls, "the most fashionable Olympics".

"To have this global moment in Paris where everybody's focusing on what the athletes are wearing, not just how they're performing, is an opportunity for us as a small brand that's just mind-blowing."

In terms of how they captured the spirit of Canada, Lo Ah Key says the aim was to celebrate the bold colour red and to play around with different shades.

3. Team France in Stephane Ashpool

We can't talk about the 'fits of the Paris Olympics and not include the host nation. Throughout the Games, French athletes will compete in a kit designed by Stéphane Ashpool, best known as the brains behind streetwear brand Pigalle. The uniform is '90s-inspired and celebrates the colours of the French flag.

In classic Parisian style, the looks were unveiled at Paris Fashion Week, where Ashpool explained his approach: "The athletes told me they wanted to be chic, elegant, bright. The result is these blended colours."

Team France in Stephane Ashpool via Instagram. Photo: stephane_ashpool, Instagram via RNZ

The kits have garnered a lot of praise on TikTok and across the fashion industry too. Lou Lewer is a designer who worked on the London 2012 uniforms for Team GB, and she tells the BBC she's particularly impressed with Ashpool's archery kit.

"It's amazing the way he has tailored the white trousers with the leather belt. He's mixing performance wear and tailoring in a way I haven't seen on the field of play before."

4. Team GB in Adidas

This year marks the 40th anniversary of Adidas being Team GB's official sportswear partner, so naturally British athletes will be wearing the German brand again this summer. Having previously worked with Adidas on the London 2012 kits, Lewer knows first-hand what the priorities of Team GB athletes are.

Team GB in Adidas for the Paris Olympics. Photo: Team GB/ Adidas via RNZ

She tells the BBC: "It's so important the athletes feel connected to their team. This is the pinnacle of what they've been training to be for years, and they really want to be representing their country, and for it to be visible."

This year, Lewer notes Adidas have kept it traditional, using the block colours of the Union Jack and featuring the flag prominently on all designs. She wonders whether the decision to play it safe is linked to last year's controversy over the England football shirts designed by Nike, which featured the St George's Cross in shades of purple and blue.

"People can be very protective over flags, which is why sometimes it works best to keep it traditional."

5. Team USA in Ralph Lauren

Since 2008, US fashion giant Ralph Lauren has designed the ceremony outfits for Team USA, and this year is no different. A statement released by the brand says the looks "embrace a patriotic spirit reflected in a signature palette of red, white and blue".

Designers behind the kit have gone for completely different moods for the opening and closing ceremonies.

Team USA in Ralph Lauren for the Paris Olympics. Photo: Ralph Lauren via RNZ

The opening ceremony is formal, and features classic Ralph Lauren tailoring, with athletes wearing fitted blazers, knitted ties, striped shirts and denim jeans. Not everyone is a fan, with commentators saying the team look like they're dressed for a day at private school. The closing ceremony outfit is far more casual, featuring race car-style jackets with patch detailing and white jeans.

6. Team Jamaica in Puma

Similarly to Team GB, the Jamaican Olympic and Paralympic team are keeping it traditional by wearing the colours of the country's flag; streaks of black, bright yellow, and electric green. Once again, the kits have been designed by Puma.

Team Jamaica in Puma for the Paris Olympics. Photo: Puma via RNZ

At the launch, Puma's CEO Arne Freundt said that this year's design marries "speed and fashion", and has been designed to look good while moving: "The cut lines have been strategically placed to accentuate the physique of the athletes whilst providing a showstopping visual that emphasises the beauty of an athlete in motion."

Puma has sponsored Jamaica's athletes since 2001, and as a result the brand has become synonymous with record-breaking sprints and podium positions. Naturally when working with such a speedy team, every element of the fabric needs to be considered too, as Freundt explains.

"[We used] engineered jacquard fabric for heat reduction and breathability, with thermo-adapt technology regulating body temperature to enable optimum performance."

7. Team Portugal in Cariuma

While some countries are opting for speed, others are championing sustainability. Brazilian sustainable skatewear brand Cariuma is behind the outfits for the skate teams of Portugal, Slovakia and The Netherlands.

Capturing the spirit of a nation might be a little more challenging when it's not your home country but lead designer Pedro Andrade tells the BBC that it's nothing a day of research can't solve. When it came to Portugal, Andrade says he was inspired by their football culture.

"It's full of excitement and it's passionate, so I went with something that fit those vibes." The result is a red jersey with blocks of teal and navy.

Team Portugal in Cariuma. Photo: Cariuma via RNZ

Everything Cariuma makes is created with sustainability in mind, and the kits for the games are no exception. The skate jerseys are made with recycled plastic bottles, which luckily for athletes, make a fast drying and ultra-breathable fabric. Important, as scorching temperatures can be common in France during the summer.

8. Team Japan in Asics

Once again, Team Japan will be wearing Asics to this year's Games. Like Cariuma, the brand is also putting sustainability at the forefront. By including the use of recycled materials and renewable energy, the company claims to have reduced the gas emissions of podium jackets and track pants by approximately 34 percent compared to the previous Games.

Team Japan in Asics. Photo: Asics via RNZ

The design is simple and focuses on two block shades of red, "Japan red" and "sunrise red", the latter said to express the warmth of the Paris morning sky.

9. Team Netherlands in The New Originals

As the list of sports diversifies at each Games, so do the designers behind the kits. This year, breakdancing will make its debut. Kitting out the Netherlands dance team is the Amsterdam brand The New Originals. Founded in 2015, it makes performance clothing for creatives.

Team Netherlands in The New Originals. Photo: The New Originals via RNZ

On Instagram, the company says they have "collaborated closely with the dancers to design uniforms to suit each of their distinct styles". The result is an 80s-style tracksuit, playing on the colours of the Dutch flag and the iconic orange of the national football team.

- [BBC https://www.bbc.com/news]