The real problem with Team USA’s Olympic uniforms isn’t that they’re ugly. It’s who made them.
Olympic ice dancers Maia Shibutani and Alex Shibutani pose in Team USA opening ceremony parade uniforms. Kathy Willens/AP

The real problem with Team USA’s Olympic uniforms isn’t that they’re ugly. It’s who made them.

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Team USA’s 2018 Olympic opening ceremony uniforms are — how should we phrase this — divisive.

Designed by iconic American brand Ralph Lauren, most of the outfit is perfectly fit for a Winter Olympics in South Korea. The jacket is water-repellant and packed with heat technology, the beanie looks quite cozy, the sweater underneath as patriotic as you can get.

Team USA’s opening ceremony parade uniform
Team USA’s opening ceremony parade uniform Team USA

“Ralph Lauren is excited by the convergence of fashion and function, and we are committed to supporting Team USA athletes by outfitting them with the latest innovative technology,” David Lauren, chief innovation officer for Ralph Lauren, said in a release. “We’re proud that we’ve worked so closely with the athletes, as well as the U.S. Olympic Committee, to keep evolving and improving. The uniform celebrates the American spirit, with iconic pieces updated with modern details and technical fabrications.”

What’s tripping people up, understandably, are the gloves: bulky suede with ample fringe. The Cut described them as “fringed brown suede explorer mitts that scream ‘dishwashing gloves, but make it USA,’” which is not inaccurate.

Team USA’s opening ceremony parade uniform
Team USA’s opening ceremony parade uniform Ralph Lauren

Whatever you think about those gloves, one issue we find with these uniforms is that they’re again designed by Ralph Lauren. Admittedly, the brand is relatively unproblematic and American, which is what really matters here. For the past few years, it’s been a sound choice, despite a 2012 scandal involving the uniforms themselves being made in China. (The 2018 uniforms are, according to the brand, entirely made in America.)

Regardless, we can’t help but think it’s time to give someone else or another brand a go.

Ralph Lauren was behind Team USA’s uniforms for the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing; the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, Canada; the 2012 Summer Olympics in London; the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia; the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro; and now the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea. The brand is reportedly signed on for the 2020 Olympics, too.

In our opinion, after 2020, it will be well past time to give another designer a shot. Even better, let’s make sure it’s a young American designer with a story to tell. Because if Team USA really is about young American talent, then why shouldn’t the designer of its uniforms also be a young American talent?

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One good option would be Prabal Gurung, who was born in Singapore and immigrated to the U.S. to design gowns for former first lady Michelle Obama and Hollywood stars. Or perhaps Thakoon Panichgul, a designer known for whimsical womenswear who was born in Thailand and became a U.S. citizen.

There’s Julian Woodhouse, an out gay soldier in the U.S. military who designs under the label Wood House.

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There’s Cushnie et Ochs, a brand known for modern shapes and silhouettes. The women of color behind the label, Carly Cushnie and Michelle Ochs, have also dressed esteemed women like Obama.

There’s Christian Siriano, a young American designer who brought inclusive fashion to the forefront of New York Fashion Week, designing for women like Oprah as well as Lane Bryant and Payless customers.

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There’s Rio Uribe, the designer behind Gypsy Sport, who grew up in Los Angeles and is also devoted to inclusivity in fashion. His shows often feature models of different sizes and identities showing off his wicked combinations of sportswear and streetwear.

Rio Uribe walks the runway for his Gypsy Sport collection during New York Fashion Week in February 2017.
Rio Uribe walks the runway for his Gypsy Sport collection during New York Fashion Week in February 2017. Neilson Barnard/Getty Images

If Team USA wants another legacy American brand, why not go for Diane von Furstenberg, who emigrated from Belgium and became one of the most politically conscious American designers we have?

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There are so many options for designers who could be (pun intended) passed this torch. So when the time comes, let’s get a designer with not only a point of view and a daring aesthetic, but one with an important message to spread.

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