Nothing nationalism quite like the Olympic Games. Viewers from around the globe watch the Olympics to experience the excitement of a historic tradition in which the world's greatest athletes gather to represent their countries on the world’s biggest stage. It’s momentous, it’s picturesque, and it sure is marketable: With viewership in the tens of millions, the biggest brands rush to outfit the athletes.
This year’s Opening Ceremony showcased brands ranging from USA’s Ralph Lauren to Nigeria’s Actively Black. But what exactly makes a team’s uniform “cool”? Is it the cohesion? Or a creative take? The best uniforms combine it all: trends, patriotism, creativity, and function. Here are our top five picks for Olympic uniforms from the Opening Ceremony.
The Swiss delegation looked imposing in a red and white look by Ochsner Sport. Simple but elegant, the brilliant white plays off of the vibrant red with the same intensity as the flag. The Swiss cross on the hat is subtly patriotic without appearing overpowering and complements the two-toned red jacket and pants. Their outfit is clean and simple, with sparkling white shoes that complete the understated, elegant look. Team Switzerland looks classy, cool, and cohesive in Beijing.
4. TEAM USA
Team USA is once again dressed in Ralph Lauren, and it’s a hit. The three different uniforms uniquely combine American patriotism and winter fashion. The blue shades of the flag bearers are a vintage ’70s dream made more cohesive by their high top boots. Not only does this threefold look set this brand apart, but their additional partnership with Skims screams a trendy collaboration that emphasizes American culture. This look is clean, sporty, and timeless — Ralph Lauren has done it again.
3. TEAM NIGERIA
Nigeria only sent two athletes to this year’s Games, but their uniforms were stunning. Not only do those puffy pants look warm and cozy, but their uniforms beautifully connect functionality and culture. The carefully dyed headscarves nod to the traditional Nigerian head wrap, called a gele, while also keeping the athletes warm and dry. The luminous white of the rest of the uniform allows the draping to really shine and highlight the tie-dye pattern within. Designed and produced by a 15-month-old, Black-owned brand, Actively Black, this Opening Ceremony debut has blasted them into the spotlight. The future for this brand is bright!
Team Great Britain’s uniforms, designed once more by Ben Sherman, are just stunning. They’re preppy and sleek, and the perfectly tailored trousers, cream-lined peacoat, and chic sweater really speak to Britain’s clean-cut fashion. It’s patriotic, but subtly and stylishly so. These outfits are simply timeless. The elegant black boots really tie it all together, crafting a cohesive look that is perfect for the Olympics or a day on the town. These uniforms are classic — great work, Ben.
1. TEAM CANADA
Canada’s red monochrome look by Lululemon is an unequivocal fan favorite. It’s sporty and clean, but not too over the top — all of these pieces are chic on their own, but the way the slightly differing red shades play off of each other is mesmerizing and trendy. The entire uniform is almost completely made of down. The scarf, mittens, and down–coat–over–down–coat look keeps it interesting: It’s weird, but in a good way, and broken up by the monochrome shades. The subtle “Canada” on the scarf and mittens is a nod to patriotism without overtaking the whole look. These outfits are the best combination of creative, patriotic, and trendy: Wear these coats over some black leggings and Docs and people will be dying to know where they’re from.