Men's and Women's Opening Ceremony uniforms for 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang, Korea, by Ralph Lauren
Ralph Lauren is bringing new meaning to the idea of warming up for the Winter Olympics: His Team USA Olympic and Paralympic athletes' uniforms, embedded with wearable heating technology, will actually warm them up.
Because who knows how cold it might get at the 2018 Pyeongchang Olympics in Korea — maybe 10 degrees or even lower? No problem.
USA TODAY got an exclusive look at the patriotic togs that America's Olympians will be wearing when they parade into Pyeongchang Olympic Stadium for the Opening Ceremony on Feb. 9: Red-white-and-blue down parkas equipped with a button on a slender battery pack inside that the athletes can push to get an instant and long-lasting jolt of toasty warmth.
Women's Opening Ceremony uniform for PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympics in Korea, by Ralph Lauren.
Call it the coolest heating system ever, says a proud David Lauren, son of Ralph and chief innovation officer for Ralph Lauren Corp., chief outfitter for the U.S. Olympic Committee since 2008.
"It's the most technologically advanced jacket ever produced," Lauren says. "There have been heatable blankets for kids before but they have wires. This is a fabric with ink that heats up — it's weightless, it's conductive and it's immediate."
The electronic-printed inks, printed in the shape of an American flag in carbon and silver and bonded to the interior of the jackets, are flexible and stretchable. The parkas are water-repellent. The athletes can set the temperature (there are three settings) via their cellphones. The heat can last up to five hours on the high setting and 11 hours on the low setting, fully charged.
Men's Olympic Opening Ceremony uniform by Ralph Lauren.
And the heat button is big enough to be used with gloves, which is crucial because the Opening Ceremony uniform includes large brown suede explorer gloves with fringe and hand beading.
"We're using mobile technology so it's literally wired but with no wires," Lauren says. The heating system is embedded in "an American flag inside the jacket, only the athletes will see it, so the American flag will heat the jacket — it's a symbolic ode to our flag."
It's also a symbolic ode to Ralph Lauren's design philosophy, intense patriotism and love of the Olympics.
40 years of Olympic opening-ceremony uniforms
Olympians Ryan Lochte, Melissa Stockwell, Connor Fields, April Ross, Jordan Burroughs and Haley Anderson wear the Ralph Lauren Team USA Opening Ceremony uniforms. Click forward to see the uniforms for every Games going back to 1976.
2014 Sochi Winter Games | United States flag bearer Todd Lodwick leads the U.S. Olympic team onto the stage during the opening ceremony for the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games at Fisht Olympic Stadium.
2014 Sochi Winter Games | Ralph Lauren provided the sweater-and-sweatpants uniform to athletes marching at the Sochi Olympics in Russia. Fashion critics were not impressed, saying the sweaters looked like something knitted by your grandmother.
2012 London Summer Games | Swimmer Ryan Lochte, who is set to take part in his fourth Olympics in Rio, modeled the uniform for the London opening-ceremony. Lochte actually never wore it for its intended purpose —swimmers competing in the first few days of the Olympics prefer to rest their legs and watch the show from the comfort of the athletes' village.
2012 London Summer Games | Ralph Lauren suffered a public-relations black eye when it was discovered the All-American uniforms weren't actually made in the USA.
2010 Vancouver Winter Games | Snowboarder Shaun White and his teammates sported navy puffer jackets with red trim and white pants
from Ralph Lauren.
VANCOUVER, BC - FEBRUARY 12: Shaun White and the United States team enter into the stadium during the Opening Ceremony of the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics at BC Place on February 12, 2010 in Vancouver, Canada. (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images) ORG XMIT: 95658513 GTY ID: 58513MW044_Winter_Olympi
2010 Vancouver Winter Games | Luger and U.S. flag bearer Mark Grimmette leads the Ralph-Lauren-clad U.S. delegation into the stadium for opening ceremonies.
2008: Beijing Summer Games | U.S. flag bearer Gina Miles, who competed in eventing for the equestrian team, models Ralph Lauren's single-breasted navy blazers and white slacks at the opening ceremonies for the Beijing Summer Games.
2008: Beijing Summer Games | NBA stars Kobe Bryant, left Dwyane Wade, and Carmello Anthony rep the Redeem Team in their embroidered navy Ralph Lauren blazers and striped ties.
2010 Torino Winter Games | Canada's Roots outfitted Team USA for a couple of opening games, including the winter games in Torino, located in the Italian Alps.
2004 Athens Summer Games | Roots also designed the red shirts, short-sleeved basketball warm-up jackets and bottoms worn by the U.S. delegation in Greece.
2004 Athens Summer Games | Olympians show off their Roots gear.
2002 Salt Lake City Winter Games | After several Games' worth of staid opening-ceremonies outfits, U.S. Olympians expressed jealousy of the Canadians' casual Roots gear and asked the U.S. Olympic Committee if that company could take a stab at the Americans' uniforms.
2002 Salt Lake City Games | At the athletes' request, the USOC gave Roots the go-ahead for these blue warm-up style uniforms, as modeled by figure skater Michelle Kwan.
2/8/02 -- US figure skater Michelle Kwan celebrates during the parade of athletes portion of Opening Ceremonies for The Salt Lake 2002 Olympic Winter Games -- ORG XMIT: KWAN MM 064.JPG
2000 Sydney Summer Games | After the Australian opening ceremonies, Team USA said sayonara to suits until the Beijing Games.
9/15/00 -- SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA -- Members of the U.S. Olympic team celebrate during Opening Ceremonies at Olympic Stadium Friday night. ORG XMIT: USA OPEN JUBO DY026
2000 Sydney Summer Games | The men sported navy blazers and khaki slacks as they marched into the stadium to kick off the Australian Games.
9/15/00, Sydney, Australia -- A member of the US team at Olympic Stadium during opening ceremonies waves to the crowd. Note: we think this is Maurice Greene but are not certain of it. ORG XMIT: RD OPEN US TEAM WT063
1998 Nagano Winter Games | Figure skater Tara Lipinksi sports the navy duster jacket and fedora worn by the U.S. delegation at the Japanese opening ceremony.
U.S. figure skater Tara Lipinski, from Sugar Land, Tex., waves an American flag as she joins in Olympic parade with her team mates during the XVIII Winter Olympic opening ceremony in Nagano Saturday, Feb. 7, 1998. (AP Photo/Eric Draper) ORG XMIT: CER139
1998 Nagano Winter Games | Flag bearer and speed skater Eric Flaim heads up the sea of blue American parkas.
1996 Atlanta Summer Games | Wrestler Bruce Baumgartner leads the home team into the stadium at the centenary Olympics. The men sported navy blazers and white pants while the women wore long red blazers and navy skirts.
American wrestler Bruce Baumgartner carries the U.S. flag as he leads the United States delegation entering the Olympic Stadium for the opening ceremony of the 1996 Summer Olympic Games in Atlanta, Friday, July 19, 1996. (AP Photo/Ed Reinke) ORG XMIT: OST146
1992 Albertville Winter Games | Clad in a blue double-breasted coat and red fedora, cross-country skier Bill Koch leads his teammates into the stadium for the kickoff to the Games in the Rhône-Alpes region of France. This was the last year the Winter and Summer Olympics were held in the same year.
8 Feb 1992: General view of the opening ceremony of the Winter Olympic Games in Albertville, France. George Steinbrenner is in middle of front row, behind flag bearer. Mandatory Credit: Allsport /Allsport [Via MerlinFTP Drop]
1988 Seoul Summer Games | For the South Korean opening ceremony, the uniform designers decided to ditch the traditional navy and royal-blue in favor of a powder-blue and white sweater paired with a white skirt or slacks.
1988 Seoul Summer Games | One U.S. athlete accessorized her official uniform with sunglasses incorporating the Olympic rings and Seoul's logo.
16 SEP 1988: THE TEAM FROM THE UNITED STATES ARE PHOTOGRAPHED WAVING THE FLAG AND ENJOYING THEMSELVES AT THE OPENING CEREMONY OF THE 1988 SUMMER OLYMPICS HELD IN SEOUL. ORG XMIT: 175309080 [Via MerlinFTP Drop]
1988 Calgary Winter Games | Biathlete Lyle Nelson serves as flag bearer for the U.S. athletes. Men wore long navy coats with white scarves while the female athletes wore white ones with red scarves.
1984 Los Angeles Summer Games | The home team hit the track wearing warmups that consisted of red, white-and blue jackets with blue striped pants. For the 1980s, this uniform held up pretty well.
1984 Sarajevo Winter Games | The U.S. team evoked a cowboy vibe with sheepskin coats, jeans and 10-gallon hats as they marched into the stadium in what was then Yugoslavia. And no, they weren't sad. That's just the acronym for USA in the Serbo-Croatian language.
1976 Montréal Summer Games | Much like the 1984 uniforms, the team's gear for the '76 Canadian Games doesn't look too bad after 40 years.
1976 Innsbruck Winter Games | Team USA marches down the snow steps in red duffel coats to stay warm in the Austrian winter.
USA Team entering stadium for the 12th Winter Games at opening ceremony on Feb. 4, 1976.at Innsbbruck Austria (AP Photo) ORG XMIT: APHS250538 [Via MerlinFTP Drop]
1976 Innsbruck Winter Games | Alpine skier Cindy Nelson heads up the U.S. delegation, who accented their red winter coats with white scarves and hats.
1980 Lake Placid Winter Games | The cowboy attired U.S. delegation (which would wear very similar outfits four years later in Sarajevo) is herded into their spot during the opening ceremony in New York. Lake Placid is still used as a training facility for winter-sports athletes.
Besides the parka and the rhinestone-cowboy gloves (Ralph Lauren has long been influenced by western-wear looks), the Opening Ceremony uniform includes a slim jean with moto-inspired seaming, a patriotic intarsia-knit wool sweater, a navy wool ski hat, a USA-themed classic navy bandanna, a leather belt and brown suede mountaineering boots with red laces.
The hat, by the way, can be customized, a first, Lauren says. You can put the name of your favorite athlete or even your mother's name on it. The Polo Ralph Lauren Team USA collection is available in limited editions in select Ralph Lauren retail stores and at RalphLauren.com and TeamUSAShop.com, with a portion of the proceeds earmarked for the U.S. Olympic team. A variety of similar items with heating technology will be offered in the fall, Lauren says.
Men's Opening Ceremony uniform from the back by Ralph Lauren..
All of the uniforms are made in the USA, Lauren said, eliminating the controversy that erupted in 2012 when it came out that the uniforms for the Summer Games in London were made in China.
Designer Ralph Lauren at his flagship store in New York on Feb. 15, 2017.
Kathy Willens, AP
As always, David Lauren says, the aim for Ralph Lauren's Olympic uniforms is to create a look that "reflects the DNA of America" as a country always moving forward, always innovating, with a strong sense of its heritage inspiring the future.
"So you see vintage-inspired southwestern gloves adding to an eclectic look of a jacket that is the cutting edge of modernity," Lauren says. "You're taking jeans, which are an American staple and a sign of American style around the world, and giving it a cutting edge of new fabrics and flexibility. You're taking a classic and making it modern and that is what Ralph Lauren is about."
Lauren said the heating technology was developed exclusively for Ralph Lauren and grew out of the success of the jacket that gold-medal-laden swimmer Michael Phelps wore when he carried the flag at the Opening Ceremonies for the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. The USA on the back lit up, acting as "a beacon" for the team, Lauren says.
Sketches of the Men's and Women's Opening Ceremony Uniforms for the 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang, Korea, by Ralph Lauren
"It got an overwhelming response, we got calls from celebrities and people across the country asking how do I get a light-up jacket — it was a social-media phenomenon," Lauren says. This year, the aim was to combine symbolism with function.
"Our goal was to make Team USA feel comfortable and excited on the global stage, where they could feel confident and secure and ready to compete," Lauren says.
Jessica Alba, David Lauren, and sister Dylan Lauren at the Ralph Lauren fashion show on Sept. 14, 2016, in New York.
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