15 Runway-Worthy Fashion Statements From the Olympics

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For the competitors chosen to represent their home countries at the Olympic Games, first impressions matter.

Sure, the importance of medal counts can’t be understated, but for a spotlight as bright as the one shined by the world’s premiere sporting event, fashion can play an integral role in telling a team or athlete’s story. 

For the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, kicking off July 23 and concluding August 8, Ralph Lauren designed a collection of quintessentially Americana uniforms for Team USA. The story Ralph Lauren and the U.S. hope to spread? Protecting the planet. 

As such, ensembles were created with consciously-sourced materials and dyed through a technique that uses less chemicals, water and energy. 

Likewise, Nike’s game plan was sustainability when outfitting the basketball, track and field, soccer and skateboarding teams. The latter sport, which will make its Olympic debut in Tokyo, will see U.S., French and Brazilian skateboarders decked out in vibrant designs made of recycled polyester. 

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Looking back at past Olympic events, these are the uniforms that sports fanatics and fashionistas alike won’t soon forget.

Find out why we’re giving these Olympic fashion statements 10, 10 10’s across the board in our gallery below!

Team USA’s 2016 Women’s Gymnastics Team

Upwards of 5,000 Swarovski crystals bedazzled the star spangled leotards worn by Laurie HernandezMadison Kocian, Simone Biles, Aly Raisman and Gabby Douglas in Rio. 

Team Brazil’s 2012 Synchronized Swimming Duet

Synchronized swimming costumes are notoriously outrageous, but Lara Teixeira and Nayara Figueira elevated the game by competing in suits inspired by human anatomy. And yes, that’s a brain on their swim caps. 

Team Liberia’s 2020 Olympic Uniforms

Telfar founder and creative genius Telfar Clemens was enlisted to design a 70-piece activewear collection for the Olympians representing his native country, Liberia. Clemens told The New York Times he’ll be treating this year’s Games as his first live runway show of the year, and you better believe we’ll be tuning in.

Michelle Kwan

The legendary figure skater and two-time medalist brought high fashion to the 1998 and 2002 Olympics when she enlisted Vera Wang to design a collection of dresses that embodied elegance and athleticism. 

Team Germany’s 2014 Opening Ceremony Uniform

The technicolor ensembles worn by the German athletes were thought to be a protest against Russia’s anti-gay legislation, however officials denied intentionally sending a message to the host city. 

Team USA’s 2010 Snowboarding Team

Could it get more American than Shaun White and Scott Lago‘s denim pants and red, white and blue plaid jackets?!

Spice Girls

The Closing Ceremony of the 2012 London Olympics saw the return of the biggest girl group of all time. Posh, Ginger, Baby, Sporty and Scary Spice turned it out in updated versions of their signature aesthetics. 

Florence Griffith-Joyner

Flo-Jo’s accomplishments on the track were only rivaled by her trailblazing sense of style. Seen here at the 1988 Seoul Olympics, the three-time gold medalist boldly paired a hooded suit with a six-inch manicure and gold jewelry. 

Pita Taufatofua

The internet fell in lust with Tonga’s Olympic flag bearer in 2016, and then all over again when he resumed his role in Pyeongchang two years later. Not even the winter chill could prevent Pita from stripping down and oiling up.

Team Bermuda’s 2014 Opening Ceremony Uniform

Kudos to the athletes of Bermuda, who proved they understood the assignment by wearing literal bermuda shorts in Sochi.

Speedo’s Revolutionary Fastskin

First introduced in 2000 and modeled after the structure of sharkskin, Speedo’s cutting edge Fastskin suits have helped dozens of swimmers achieve their Olympic dreams. According to swimswam.org, 83 percent of Olympic medalists were sporting FastSkin at the Sydney Games, and four years later Michael Phelps was one of 47 Speedo-supported athletes who medaled in Athens.

Hubertus Von Hohenlohe

The six-time Olympian (who also happens to be a prince and self-described Renaissance man) represented Mexico on the slopes in a mariachi ski suit. 

Adam Rippon

Not only did the figure skater make history as the first openly gay Olympian to bring home a Winter Games medal for the U.S., he wowed in an elaborate look worthy of Hollywood’s most glamorous red carpets. 

Team USA’s 2018 Opening Ceremony Uniform

Where fashion meets function! The patriotic team at Ralph Lauren configured parkas with adjustable heaters, which were made from heat-conducting ink printed in the shape of an American flag. Those suede fringed gloves, however, were roasted across social media. 

Katarina Witt

The two-time gold medalist from Germany ruffled feathers at the 1988 Calgary Olympics with her figure-baring dress. Considered too risqué for the time, the International Skating Union established the so-called “Katarina Rule,” which required women to wear full coverage skirts. 

The 2020 Tokyo Olympics Opening Ceremony airs Friday, July 23 on NBC.



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