Tuesday, April 8, 2008

polo ralph lauren & the 2008 olympics

Polo Ralph Lauren Corp. announced that it will be the official outfitter for the U.S. team at the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing. Polo, which signed a contract with the U.S. Olympic Committee last week, replaces the Canadian apparel company Roots Ltd., which outfitted the U.S. team for the past three Olympic Games and was to continue through 2008. But the two parted ways in January after Roots presented the USOC with designs the committee deemed too informal. The preppy styles Polo is making for the athletes to wear in the Opening and Closing ceremonies and in the Olympic Village will mark a departure from sporty outfits that the American team has worn in recent years, such as retro ski jackets inspired by vintage Ducati motorcycle ads that were worn in Turin, Italy, in 2006.

Norman Bellingham, chief operating officer of the USOC and a former Olympic kayaker, says that he wanted the athletes to be attired in a "classic and more formal manner." At a meeting at Polo's headquarters on Madison Avenue in New York, Mr. Bellingham told Mr. Lauren that his inspiration was "Chariots of Fire," the 1981 movie about British athletes competing in the 1924 Summer Olympics in Paris. Upon hearing that, Mr. Lauren smiled, Mr. Bellingham recalls. "He knew precisely what we were going for." "We have to put America on a world stage that looks refined and appropriate," says David Lauren. At the Olympic Village and at the Closing Ceremonies, athletes' wardrobes will include V-neck tennis sweaters and ties, classic Polo mesh shirts with "Beijing" written in big Chinese characters across the front and cargo pants -- all in a patriotic palette of red, white and blue. The Olympic logo featured on the new uniforms may include a replica of a crest with stars and stripes used by the 1932 U.S. Olympic team at the Los Angeles Games. Polo ponies of varying sizes will also make an appearance on the garments. (WSJ)

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