The year-long wait is finally over. This Friday’s opening ceremony isn’t just going to be moments of pride and seeing the world’s athletes march behind their flag-bearers. It’ll also bring out the fashion police that we’ve been wanting to see.
The Olympics isn’t strictly a fashion affair, but that doesn’t mean we won’t be seeing good sartorial moments here and there. While a handful of national teams have already revealed what they’ll be wearing during the Olympics, only a few were designed by designer labels. If that sparks your curiosity, here’s the lowdown on the most stylish national team kits for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics and Paralympics.
United States of America: Ralph Lauren, Nike, SKIMS
Ralph Lauren is the first to start off the list. This brand is well-known to have dressed some of America’s top athletes for over a decade. This time for Tokyo 2020 Olympics and Paralympics, it proudly unveils Team USA’s Opening and Closing Ceremony Parade uniforms with a look of classic Americana. The label has also created villagewear and protective face masks made from locally grown cotton. On the other hand, Nike has created several offerings for Team USA. In addition to the stunning all-white medal stand uniforms made from recycled materials, Nike unveiled new uniforms for several sports including basketball, soccer, track and field, and skateboarding.
And it doesn’t just stop there. Kim Kardashian’s shapewear label SKIMS has announced an exclusive collection for Team USA. It features undergarments, loungewear, and sleepwear that will be given to all women competing for Tokyo 2020.
Italy: Emporio Armani
In the past decade, Giorgio Armani was chosen to design Team Italy uniforms for numerous Summer and Winter Olympics and Paralympics. However, the baton has been passed on to Armani’s line Emporio Armani for Team Italy Tokyo 2020 outfits. Along with the opening ceremony uniforms, the Armani-branded tracksuits have been created specifically for the medal awards ceremony. The wardrobe is completed with bags, backpacks, hats, and sneakers featuring visual details in tribute to Japan. As part of Emporio Armani’s EA7 collection, they were first unveiled at the Spring Summer 2020 fashion show in Milan.
Liberia: Telfar Clemens
Telfar Clemens is a familiar name for anyone with a passing knowledge of It bags. But not long ago this Beyoncé-approved American-Liberian designer has upped his game to be the official outfitter of the Tokyo 2020 Liberian National Team. He has not only created the opening and closing ceremony uniforms, but also 70 pieces of athleticwear and villagewear for the entire team. One-shouldered tanks, track pants, unitards, and duffel bags are just some on the list. And thanks to his first ever gig designing the uniforms for Team Liberia, Telfar Clemens will be introducing athleticwear to his core collection too.
Canada: Hudson’s Bay and Levi’s
Hudson’s Bay, the official outfitter since 2006, collaborated with Levi’s to give Team Canada the iconic closing ceremony trucker jackets. Inspired by graffiti and streetwear, this double-denim fashion pays tribute to Tokyo uniquely and artistically. Together with Levi’s white jeans, the complete look is a strong nod to the classic Canadian tuxedo and, not to mention, unapologetically Canadian. What’s more, it’s a unisex trucker jacket that celebrates inclusivity and gender neutrality too.
France: Lacoste, LeCoq Sportif, Nike and Piet Parra
The two famous French sportswear labels teamed up to design Team France’s official uniforms for Tokyo 2020. It’s a collection of athleticwear in the colours of the French flag with Lacoste‘s famed alligator logo and Le Coq Sportif‘s rooster motif displayed in every piece. These uniforms are sleek, stylish, and comfortable from the top right down to the socks and shoes. Moreover, Nike collaborated with Dutch artist Piet Parra and created competition uniforms for the skateboarding team. The tricolour palette is visible throughout the clothing, and it’s a modern twist of inspiration from the traditional tennis polo.
Great Britain: Ben Sherman and Adidas
Team GB enlisted British label Ben Sherman to design the opening and closing ceremony uniforms. Previously unveiled at London Fashion Week, the designs are the modern version of what the athletes wore at the Tokyo Olympics back in 1964. Playing on the British flag’s tricolour palette with stripes, colourblocks, and abstract patterns, the end result creates looks that are preppy and put-together but still functional and suited to athletes.
Similar to Team USA and France, Nike tagged team with Dutch artist Piet Parra to create skateboarding uniforms for Team Brazil and hopes to represent the unique skating cultures from each country. Brazil’s outfits take cues from football jerseys and a toucan is stitched into the shirts to represent happiness. Functionality is at the heart of these uniforms, which were designed to be lightweight and breathable.
While fashion in Australia is normally about casual wear, the country has created one of the best kits for Tokyo 2020 by Asics. Designed to express the power and pride of Team Australia, the iconic green and gold colour schemes with Japanese origami-inspired visual details are highlighted throughout. Taking Tokyo’s heat and humidity into account, the technical mesh and fabrics are strategically placed for a cooling sensation too.
South Korea: The North Face and Nike
The North Face went for a minimal and monochromatic concept for Team South Korea’s sportswear and medal stand uniforms. Though the navy and white palette is decidedly understated, these colours will make a fine background for any colour of medals. The football athletes get additional pieces designed by Nike. The designs are a reinterpretation of Korean culture, with references to the vibrant colours seen in K-pop music videos. Plus, many are many beautiful meanings hidden within these creative details as well.
Correction: July 28, 2021
An earlier version of this article mistakenly included Stella McCartney as an additional designer for Team Great Britain. Ben Sherman is the sole designer of Team Great Britain’s Tokyo 2020 Olympics outfits.