Ralph Lauren reveals Team USA's 2016 closing ceremony uniforms
The George R. Brown Convention center, which is located in downtown Houston, over 5,000 miles from Rio de Janeiro, served as the "processing" hub for Team USA. There, from July 23 to Aug. 3, more than 700 Olympic-bound athletes and support staff arrived to take their official pre-Games portraits, go over security briefs and get the lowdown on Rio's culture. However, the most glamorous of the assigned tasks for each athlete was getting fitted for the Polo Ralph Lauren uniforms they would wear to the opening and closing ceremonies.
Creating apparel for both the opening and closing festivities meant the Ralph Lauren crew was required to generate full looks for hundreds of competitors of varying body types. The selected designs had to be flattering on everyone -- from gymnastics superhero Simone Biles' 4-foot-8-inch frame to U.S. women's basketball player Brittney Griner's 6-foot-8-inch form. Producing all uniforms within the limited time frame required 292 sets of hands, including the expertise of 16 tailors and two stylists.
Luckily, designer Ralph Lauren is a veteran of the Olympic Games and met the challenge head-on. In fact, the New York-based fashion trailblazer, who is celebrated for infusing patriotic themes into his collections, has dressed the U.S. team on four previous occasions: the Beijing (2008), Vancouver (2010), London (2012), and Sochi (2014) Olympics and Paralympics.
"The tradition of outfitting the best American athletes [makes us] proud. It's been amazing to watch their journey to the greatest sporting event in the world," said David Lauren, executive vice president of global advertising, marketing and communications for Ralph Lauren. "We're honored to do our part in supporting Team USA."
This year's closing ceremony uniforms, which will be on parade Sunday, feature classic button-down shirts, crisp white shorts, nautical-inspired belts and boat shoes -- all in a palette of red, white and blue -- for both the men's and women's teams. All of the pieces were manufactured in the United States, creating jobs for laborers throughout the country. So, it's safe to say, the looks are as American as apple pie.
Ericka N. Goodman-Hughey is a senior editor at espnW. Follow her on Twitter @ericka_editor