Ralph Lauren Debuts Team USA's Uniforms: How He Struck Gold With the Opening & Closing Ceremony Looks

Like the athletes, Ralph Lauren puts in a lot of hard work and dedication ahead of the Olympics. Find out how the brand designed the U.S. team's uniforms for the Opening and Closing Ceremonies.

By Elyse Dupre Jul 16, 2021 2:48 PMTags

We interviewed this designer to give you an inside look. Products shown are from the designer's product line. E! has affiliate relationships, so we may get a commission if you purchase something through our links. Items are sold by the retailer, not E!.

When the 2020 Tokyo Olympics were postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic, Ralph Lauren had already finished his training, completing the U.S. team's uniforms for the Opening and Closing Ceremonies.

"Our uniforms and collection for Team USA were done and ready to ship out for the Tokyo Games when they were postponed last year," David Lauren, chief branding and innovation officer and vice chairman of the board of Ralph Lauren Corporation, tells E! News. "We've been holding them for a year and are ready to finally cheer on Team USA in their quest for gold!"

Now, they won't have to wait much longer. The Olympic Games officially begin their 16-day run Friday, July 23, with the Closing Ceremony set for Sunday, August 8. The Paralympic Games then start August 24 and end September 5.

Ralph Lauren has been an official outfitter for the U.S. team ever since 2008. And just like the athletes, the brand's teams dedicate a lot of time to preparing for the big moment. 

So, what goes into the design process and how long does it take?

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We're so glad you asked.

Let the Games Begin

When it comes to designing the U.S. team's uniforms for the Opening and Closing Ceremonies, the process is more of a marathon than a sprint.

"The design process takes about 18 months, from the creative concepting stages and innovation development to delivering the finished product to Team USA," David Lauren, chief branding and innovation officer and vice chairman of the board of Ralph Lauren Corporation, tells E! News. "Every Olympics, our goal is to create a look for Team USA that is both cutting-edge and classic and represents the best of America—and that make the athletes look their best on the world's stage."

Working as a Team

For the team at Ralph Lauren, going for the gold means delivering uniforms that are both innovative and functional, as well as fashionable. And to ensure they stick the landing, designers seeks insights from both the athletes and the United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee.

"We want our athletes to be comfortable, represent our country and honor the incredible tradition and spectacle that is the Olympics," Lauren continues. "We work closely with the USOPC and get detailed feedback and input from Team USA athletes to really understand what they want and need, and what they're comfortable in—whether that be a heated jacket, RL COOLING technology or developing apparel that is sustainability and consciously created."

2 Ceremonies, 2 Different Uniforms

Just as how no two events are the same, the team at Ralph Lauren takes different aspects into consideration when designing the U.S. team's uniforms for the Opening Ceremonies versus the Closing Ceremonies.

"The Opening Ceremony Parade is the pinnacle and most iconic moment of the Olympic Games and is when each athlete truly becomes an ‘Olympian' for the first time. We take that notion very seriously, and the uniforms for the Opening Ceremony are a bit more formal and classic to honor the gravity of that moment," Lauren explains. "The spirit of Closing Ceremony uniform is always a bit sportier and more informal, in keeping with the celebratory and festive atmosphere of the Closing Ceremony itself."

The Opening Ceremony Parade Uniform

For the Opening Ceremony Parade uniform, the team at Ralph Lauren created a "classic all-American look," the brand states in a press release, that includes a navy blazer, striped T-shirt, printed scarf, striped belt, denim pant, mask and shoes. The company incorporated several sustainable materials throughout the piece. For instance, the press release notes the scarf is made from recycled polyester derived from plastic water bottles and that the patch on the back of the pants is made of a leather alternative that's created from renewable resources and is free of synthetic plastics.

The Closing Ceremony Uniform

As for the Closing Ceremony uniform, the team at Ralph Lauren designed "a fresh and sporty all-American look," the company states in a release, that includes a graphic white string jacket, striped belt, white Polo shirt, white denim pant, mask and shoes. 

Like with Opening Ceremony uniform, the look incorporates sustainable materials and each item in both pieces is manufactured in the United States.

Fashion and Function

But again, the uniforms aren't just about fashion. They're also about function. And for the upcoming Tokyo Games, the team at Ralph Lauren created a wearable technology called RL COOLING, which the brand's press release describes as a "self-regulating temperature cooling device that will be worn by Team USA's flag bearer during the Olympic and Paralympic Opening Ceremony Parades."

The goal, said Lauren, is for their clothes to look and feel good. "In terms of functionality, we're very attuned to creating product that is appropriate for the occasion, but also that is innovative, sustainable and comfortable for the athletes," Lauren shared. "In 2018, PyeongChang was absolutely freezing, and we developed a first of its kind heated jacket. For Tokyo, we've gone the opposite direction and have developed a cutting-edge wearable technology called RL COOLING for Team USA, to keep them comfortable in Tokyo's summer heat."

Shop official Team USA looks at Ralph Lauren.

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