“THE GRAFFITI GRAPHIC AND UNEXPECTED PATCH PLACEMENTS CAPTURE A YOUTHFUL AND CELEBRATORY FEEL”
FOR THE TOKYO Olympics, Italy has Armani. France has Lacoste. And Team Great Britain, previously dressed by Stella McCartney, will be kitted out by mod heritage label Ben Sherman. Team Canada? As part of the official uniform kit, Canadian Olympic and Paralympic athletes will wear a take on the “Canadian tuxedo” designed by the official outfitters, Hudson’s Bay Company.
The star of our closing-ceremonies uniform is a denim jacket paired with snug white jeans. The trucker jacket is a reprise of London
2012, when Team Canada wore a version festooned in patches, with shapeless khakis, like an accidental riff on Casual Friday.
“The graffiti graphic and unexpected patch placements capture a youthful and celebratory feel,” Hudson’s Bay said in a statement about the collection. Translation: a busy mix of graphics, patches, stencils, faux spray paint, word prints and stripes representing the brand’s point blanket.
The collection is touted as “fashionable and unapologetically Canadian,” but graffiti is more culturally associated with New
York City than Canada, not to mention Team Canada’s key pieces are a collaboration with Levi’s, a quintessential American brand. Even putting style (and national pride) aside, form has to marry function, and a denim jacket seems ill-suited to the intense humidity of Tokyo’s summer climate.
Calling up the hits and misses of Team Canada garb over the decades (bucket hats for Sydney 2000 and flamboyant tropical prints, straight out of Carlton’s Fresh Prince of Bel-Air closet, for Barcelona 1992), it’s tempting to posit that we’re better at dressing for winter. Remember when Roots’ red-fleece flat cap took Nagano by storm in 1998 and delighted Prince Charles and Prince William? Yet, for every HBC shearling trapper hat (the must-have item at Turin in 2006), there are duds like the red overcoats with a western fringe and matching white-felt cowboy hats at the 1988 Calgary Olympics.
The Olympic Games are about excellence in sport, but athletes are also ambassadors in a global runway fashion show, where sartorial reputations are just as much at stake as medals.