When it comes to the U.S. Olympic Opening Ceremony uniforms, Ralph Lauren can’t catch a break.
In 2012, it was the uniform’s “made in China” labels that peeved the public. This year, it's the mere sight of the outfits.
Unveiled Jan. 23, the 2014 Sochi Games uniforms are a far cry from previous ceremony ensembles. Lauren, who has partnered with the U.S. team since the 2008 Games, traditionally designs classic blazers, collared shirts, and tailored pants for athletes.
But this year’s uniforms are different: A chunky patchwork cardigan is adorned with stars, stripes, flags, and Olympic rings, while fitted fleece sweatpants tuck into bulky leather boots. The outfits might be
domestically-produced this time around, but that doesn’t mean Americans are happy.
Deadspin’s Barry Petchesky didn’t hold back when dissecting the eclectic ensembles:
The Sochi opening ceremony is just 15 days away, and American athletes will be wearing this knit patriotic barf.
The Ralph Lauren-made uniforms were unveiled on the "Today" show on the morning of Jan. 23, and reaction has been swift and merciless. A generous interpretation would say the patchwork stylings are reminiscent of certain Russian folk dress. But it's totally just an ugly Christmas sweater.
You will have friends who buy these and wear them ironically. Punch them.
But Los Angeles Times fashion critic Booth Moore says the cardigan has grown on him.
I found the graphics on the cardigan to be a bit dizzying at first glance, but they have grown on me. The look is cute in a craftsy, homespun, cowichan sweater kind of way, which is no doubt exactly what Ralph Lauren intended. I think the brand really redeemed itself.
One perk of the new uniforms? All revenue from consumer sales of the Team USA cardigan will be donated to the U.S. Olympic Committee, the organization responsible for funding Team USA. But with a price tag of $595, it's not clear who will be sporting the sweaters any time soon.