From Couture To Sporty


With the Olympics on center stage this year, the fashion industry recently jumped on the ban wagon and saw the biggest sporting event ever for what it can mean to them – a massive marketing opportunity. Oh, of course there’s the idea of making our athletes look good too. Not to mention the idea of tapping the monolithic Chinese market. This explains the launch of designer sports lines due to the new sports stores mushrooming all over Beijing.

Fashion V Sport Curator (at London’s Victoria and Albert Museum) Ligaya Salazar notes that "It is a great opportunity for fashion brands to get involved in something quite big and heroic." Salazar further adds that "More and more we are seeing fashion brands getting involved in sports like the Olympics or Wimbledon or the U.S. Open."

According to the curator, fashion and sport’s recent team up began only 10 years ago when designers began to note that more and more people are wearing sports attire on the street. When designers stumbled upon this gold mine, they tapped on a previously neglected market of loyal sports fans. This new audience knew that sports have a greater impact worldwide than any runway show.

Years ago, we only get to hear about the Adidas-Nike rivalry, regarding which sports brand would be the official sponsor of any given sporting event. But now, these sports brand giants have new competition.

Armani chose famous English football player David Beckham to star in its fashion campaigns.

Stella McCartney and Alexander McQueen chose a friendlier route, opting to design for super sports brands like Adidas and Puma, respectively.

Other designers opted to design their own sports collections.

Salazar notes that "this trend was reflected at the Beijing Olympics where the fashion stakes have been raised."

Dressed for success

Just who is designing which team?

Some of the many designer-garbed athletes include:

Team USA, the U.S. Olympic Committee, who chose renowned fashion designer Ralph Lauren to design the U.S. team’s outfit for the Beijing Olympics, thereby replacing Roots Ltd. which outfitted the team for the three previous Olympics.

Team Canada, HBC, formerly the Hudson’s Bay Company, outfitted the Canadian team with red-and-white hoodies and gold collage maple leaf t-shirts with Chinese astrological symbols.

Team Brazil. Oestudio, the Rio de Janeiro-based design company, collaborated with sports brand Olympikus to dress the Brazilian Team.

Of course, these athlete-outfitting designers are ensuring that they are supporting their efforts with marketing and retail.

For instance, Polo Ralph Lauren is producing an Olympics "replica wear", already on sale this month.

German giant sports brand Adidas recently opened their biggest store – a high-tech, four storey store in the Sanlitun area in Beijing, keeping abreast of it’s closest competitor, Nike on the huge Chinese market while America’s on a crunch. The Adidas megastore sells special Adidas Collections by Yohji Yamamotot, Stella McCartney and of course, an Olympic line. The store also features 12 other sportswear stores.

With the Beijing Olympics, designers are hitting three birds with one stone – an additional line for their brand which taps into a wider marketing, a huge marketing opportunity, and lastly penetrating the lucrative Chinese market.

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