Every two years, elite American athletes come together to march through an Olympic Stadium wearing matching ensembles. While the actual garments change — from blazers and chinos to suffragette skirts and berets — the common thread, quite literally, is red, white, and blue and a healthy dose of patriotism.
Ahead of the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Games in South Korea, Team USA revealed its Ralph Lauren opening ceremony looks. The getups are much as expected: a navy blue parka with red and white stripes, an intarsia-knit wool sweater in the same colors, and a navy wool ski hat. But there are, of course, some distinguishing features that have sparked chatter: rhinestone-cowboy gloves, brown suede mountaineering boots with red laces, and slim-cut jeans. To keep athletes warm while they’re walking, the jackets include wearable heat technology.
When asked by Yahoo Lifestyle about the inspiration for this year’s look, a spokesperson for Ralph Lauren said the brand is working to reimagine iconic American design references in an attempt to celebrate the American spirit.
The 2018 Opening Ceremony looks haven’t yet drawn the kind of ire that the Sochi 2014 Opening Ceremony outfits did. Deadspin called the Ralph Lauren-designed patchwork knit cardigans with white sweatpants “knit patriotic barf.” It’s the sixth time Ralph Lauren has outfitted Team USA.
As for those American design references, it’s not the first year that Team USA Olympic ensemble has pulled from Western iconography. In 1984, Levi Strauss designed tan-colored shearling jackets, tan gloves, and beige cowboy hats — a look just missing a pocket holster and stirrups to make it fit for an extra on Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. Still, this year’s fringed gloves are almost more Lloyd Christmas circa Dumb and Dumber than The Treasure of the Sierra Madre.
While one writer for Smithsonian Magazine said, “Team USA has always had an eccentric taste in its uniforms,” this year’s look (aside from the fringed gloves, perhaps) is relatively subdued. Per usual, the prices are less so: The Ralph Lauren Team USA slim jeans cost $295 and the wool sweater $495.
The fringed gloves aren’t yet for sale on the Ralph Lauren site, but you’ll be able to corral that piece of American history soon enough.
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