The Olympics is the New Fashion Week

·2-min read
Photo credit: Jason Nocito
Photo credit: Jason Nocito

It was only a matter of time before the fashion industry realised, right? A highly-televised global event stuffed with beautiful, wholesome people that are not only guaranteed to fit the samples you send, but are actually, completely, totally ripped, too. It’s the perfect place to demo nice clothes!

In the main, the sports clothes the sportspeople wear to do the sports are still made by the sportswear brands. That makes sense, because they know how to weave all those helio-nano-fabrics that wick sweat and shave time and bend the very air around you. But other, non-athletic brands are muscling in.

Photo credit: Ben Sherman
Photo credit: Ben Sherman

Kim Kardashian is providing the American team with official underpants. Ben Sherman has clad the Brits in Moddish Sixties polo shirts and chinos. While Rowing Blazers created a double-spiffing piped navy blazer for the the El Salvadorian crew. But that’s all merch, essentially. As are all the (quite tenuous) unofficial products that are currently on the market. A pair of Olympics cufflinks, m’liege??

But a proper fashion brand has tried its hand at the actual competition garb, and it’s really good. And weird… in a good way. Telfar – the eponymous brand by Telfar Clemmens, known for its ‘Bushwick Birkin’ bags, democratic approach to fashion and general meteoric rise over the past two years – has made kit for the Liberian team.

Emmanuel Matadi, a sprinter and one of the three Liberian athletes at the games, noticed Telfar popping up on his Instagram more and more. And when he realised Clemmens was Liberian-American, a link-up made complete sense.

The result is a track uniform that looks like it came straight off a NYFW runway. (Clemmens recently told the New York Times that the Liberian team asked him to go crazy, so he did.) Mostly notably, Telfar’s signature single-shoulder has been transferred into podium-ready lycra, but the calling cards of the brand can be seen throughout the collection, and it’s jammed with things people will actually want to wear away from a major sporting event. The Telfar X Converse Mary-Janes, for example, will fly off the shelves, I’m sure.

Pieces from the wider collection – which features track pants and jackets and full-length gowns – will be released in drops vi as the games progress, which is shrewd, and potentially prescient. It’s clearly a project that means a lot to Clemmens, and it’s genuinely cool, but will this serve as the starter pistol for an invasion of high-fashion into elite sport? Perhaps the 2024 games will serve as the latest fashion week on the calendar? They will be in Paris, after all…

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