A Winning Look: Luxury Designers Go for Gold During the Olympics

Olympic team outfits

With eyes around the world glued to the Olympics, luxury fashion designers have a long history of taking advantage of the opportunity to cement their place as definitive voices in culture.

On Tuesday (June 18), Ralph Lauren debuted the uniforms it has designed for the United States team to wear at the Olympic and Paralympic Games Paris 2024 Opening and Closing Ceremony.

“For nearly 60 years, Ralph Lauren has been a pioneer at the intersection of style and sport—the vibrancy, passion and self-expression in sport has been a central touchpoint of inspiration for our brand since the very beginning of the iconic Polo brand in 1967,” David Lauren, chief branding and innovation officer at the fashion company, said in a statement. “This summer, Paris is the backdrop where fashion and sport will collide on the world’s stage with a global audience and that is an incredibly exciting proposition.”

As Ralph Lauren aims to define the American aesthetic, Giorgio Armani is doing the same in Italy, again set to outfit the country’s team in the Summer Olympics after having done so this past Winter Olympics.

No surprise either that host country and fashion capital France is going all out on uniforms, with LVMH and its leather-making subsidiary Berluti having debuted their Opening Ceremony outfits back in April.

“As the athletes of Team France are gearing up to take part in this historic event on home soil, they will have the honour of wearing the outfits of Berluti during the spectacular Opening Ceremonies of the Olympic and Paralympic Games Paris 2024,” Tony Estanguet, president of the Paris 2024 Organising Committee for the Olympic and Paralympic Games, said in a statement. “As a Maison of the LVMH Group—a Premium Partner of Paris 2024—Berluti utterly embodies French prestige and excellence.”

Plus, on Wednesday (June 19), the International Olympic Committee (IOC) announced a consumer-facing collaboration with Lacoste on a co-branded fashion line commemorating the centennial anniversary of the Olympic Games Paris 1924, when René Lacoste took home the bronze for Team France.

Over the decades, designers have had the chance to strengthen their brand identities and gain exposure by outfitting Olympians, and it is not only luxury labels such as these. More mass-market brands have also gotten to enjoy this honor, from Japan’s sustainability-focused uniforms for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, designed by Asics, to Team USA’s looks in the 1980 Lake Placid Winter Olympics, a Western-inspired look by Levi Strauss.

For these brands, the Olympics offer a unique opportunity. For one thing, there is the unparalleled global reach. Billions tune in, transforming athletes into living billboards. A well-received uniform can catapult a brand onto the world stage, sparking trends and boosting sales. The Games also present a chance to foster national pride. A designer who captures a nation’s essence in their design can capture the imaginations both of their country’s residents and of those on the lookout international fashions.

The Olympics offer a unique chance to showcase talent, burnish brand image, and unite a nation under a banner of style and athletic prowess. In the world of fashion, that wins the gold.

For all PYMNTS retail coverage, subscribe to the daily Retail Newsletter.