Sochi XXII: A feast for the fashionably impaired

Karishma Patel 30 January 2014

Excess is in. Or at least that was the motto adopted by design houses everywhere during the creation of the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympic uniforms.

Germany opted for a blizzard of bright colours fit for an Oompa Loompa, while USA designer Ralph Lauren crafted a patchwork cardigan that literally defines appropriate apparel for an ugly sweater party. It didn’t get much better from there with the Australians showing rave-worthy neon green and yellow spandex and Norway sporting all-over zigzag prints that would make even a sober nun’s head spin.

On the opposite end of the spectrum Great Britain, France, Sweden and Canada played it safe in cliché colour palettes and simple designs. Sweden and France actually have redeeming qualities to their uniforms, though I’m afraid that the rather chic boxy Swedish H&M design and France’s Lacoste minimalist jackets will be lost in the slurry of colours and patterns.

Great Britain and Canada are by no means lacking colour – the designs are simply boring. Unlike the 2012 London games, where Stella McCartney steered away from the red, white and blue motif, the 2014 Sochi uniforms make a reserved turn back to the Union Jack.

The icing on the cake really has to be the hosts’ apparel: a combination of tailored velvet blazers, North Pole worthy jackets, fur, multi-coloured fingers, pompoms and patterns are all on offer. Though it is tradition for the host country to pull out all stops in dressing their athletes, it seems as though the Russians couldn’t quite make up their mind and so went for everything, much like the Americans − finally something they agree on! 

Volunteer outfits mirror a state of confusion in multi-coloured blocking and prints. Despite the disarray, there is something admirable about these uniforms. Russia steered away from the norm and offered street designs to their volunteers making for an interesting concept that looks to the future, rather than the past much like the Russian fashion industry as a whole. Props also go to the Czech Republic for a combination of eccentric and yet reserved uniform of furry flapped hats and white jumpsuits with metallic details. 

Disregarding the state of surplus that will be donned by most athletes, it seems we are at least in for a good show. Don’t forget to watch the opening ceremonies on February 7th to pick your own best and worst dressed countries.