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Gold-medal-bad Olympic uniforms

Posted by Christopher Shea  February 24, 2010 11:51 AM

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The results are in: blogger Rob Walker ("Murketing") awards the gold medal for bad Olympics-uniform design to--the American snowboarders. To be sure, he was not the only one to raise an eyebrow at those snowpants fashioned to look like well-worn jeans and the red-white-and-blue hoodies evoking early-'90s grunge style.

Just for starters, Walker notes that the hoods are "completely superfluous, and in fact probably counterfunctional." (They presumably create wind resistance and may even impinge on peripheral vision.) "If there's a more pure example of conformity trumping practicality, I can't think of it," he writes. "Oh, wait, sure I can: phony-holed jeans." Cynics might describe expensive distressed jeans and grunge-plaid as a hipster-slacker uniform; the snowboarders managed to make that gibe literally true.

Burton-2010-Olympic-US-Uniforms-00.jpg
The subject of Rob Walker's ire (and of rolled eyeballs nationwide)

What were they thinking? Walker quotes the "vice president of creative" at Burton, the snowboarding company that provided the uniforms:

The inspiration behind the U.S. Snowboarding Team outerwear for the 2010 Olympics is classic Americana, Although we are creating a uniform, our first objective is to express the individuality of snowboarding. As such, we are taking vintage American looks and interpreting them in a very unique and unexpected fashion. ... The result will be a progressive and fresh look that challenges the former conservatism of the Olympics.

Writes Walker: "Yes, nothing challenges conservatism like classic-ness. I look forward to the overthrow of reactionary footwear by way of penny loafers. Burton penny loafers."
 
The calculated bogus rebelliousness of the design (can uniforms be rebellious, anyway?) makes Walker all the more appreciative of the style sense of the Norwegian curlers, who simply found some outlandish golf pants online (at Loudmouthgolf.com) and ordered them. "No 'vice president of creative' required," Walker writes.

norwegians.jpg
Those stylish (if loud) Norwegians
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