Elite sports and Olympic games have always had an inextricable link with fashion. From team uniformity, specific performance-wear, outfitted nationalism, and personal expression – what athletes wear has always been important and intentional.
And this longtime relationship between sporting events and luxury brands is evolving to be bigger and better than ever before.
Since 2008, Ralph Lauren has designed the opening and closing ceremony looks for the USA Olympic team. Other Icons including Christian Louboutin, Giorgio Armani and Stella McCartney have been recognisable designers of Olympic team uniforms.
Opening and closing ceremonies have been unofficial fashion runways. Among these designers, Nike and H&M have also regularly provided garments for Olympians to perform in and receive medals.
But there has never been an official sponsor and designer for loungewear and underwear until now. And to our welcome surprise, Kim Kardashian is leading the whole thing.
Skims is the first brand to design loungewear, pyjamas and underwear for an Olympic team. While Jockey may be the official supplier of underwear for Australian teams, there has not been a specific designer for loungewear and comfort clothing.
The campaign stars athletes Alex Morgan, Haley Anderson, Scout Bassett, Dalilah Muhammed, and A’ja Wilson wearing the new collection.
“We’re so proud to be supporting female athletes during the Olympic and Paralympic Games in Tokyo.
“These women are incredible role models for younger girls, including my own daughters, showing them that anything is possible if you work hard enough.”
The 40-year-old star also wrote in an Instagram post that her step-parent’s own Olympic history during her younger years inspired the line.
The capsule collection will be available to all 626 female athletes on the team. It has also become available for online purchase by non-Olympians on July 12, which is incredible and unprecedented.
The brand has a focus on comfort. The collection will feature athletic wear, intimates, sleep and loungewear styles made from ultra-soft and breathable fabrics. This includes sports bras, briefs, boxers, vests, shirts, and high-waisted intimates.
Maintaining the brand’s look, the pieces are neutral-toned and minimalist. They bear the American flags, the five Olympic rings and Team USA branding.
Senior Vice President of consumer products at US Olympic & Paralympic Properties, Peter Zeytoonjian, showed support for the collaboration saying Skims was perfect due to their “shared mission and values of empowerment and inclusivity.”
“Our top priority is providing our athletes with the tools and support needed to compete at the highest level, and we’re excited to work with SKIMS to bring this unparalleled level of comfort to Team USA athletes and fans.”
Zeytoonjian said in the release.
The Future of ‘Athleisure’
This collaboration plus the recent announcement that NY designer Telfar Clemens will be designing Liberia’s uniform for the Games has helped expand the definition of athleisure and its relationship to the Olympics.
Both Clemens and Kardashian have also vocalised their approach towards inclusivity in their Olympic uniforms and sportswear collections.
But this partnership brings something new. Kim Kardashian’s role reflects the rise of celebrity personalities in global events. A non-designer leading a collection worn by athletes rather than supermodels represents that athletic wear is no longer narrowly defined.
And on the other side, it is becoming more common for athletes to gain their own celebrity status. Being represented by big labels, part of campaigns, and endeavouring into social justice initiatives through brand sponsorships have been fundamental in recognising the influence of sport and athletes in the world of fashion.
Ultimately, the collaboration reflects the further blending of fashion and sports, and the expanding definitions of athletic apparel.
Now, most big brands produce athleisure and sportswear lines. The new staple can be worn to work out, as loungewear, or for stepping out like an effortless Princess Diana in the 90s.
The Tokyo Olympic games and uniforms represent nationalism, inclusion, and creativity that is moving forward. This is sure to spark future collaborations between brands, athletes, and celebrities that will further cement the relationship between the industries.
The games are just around the corner and we are excited for history to be made on and off the track.
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