Team GB’s Paris Olympics kit is short on imagination as function wins out

Last Updated: June 13, 2024By

Team Spirit: The Journey of Designing Olympic Kits

Designing the kits for Olympic and Paralympic athletes is no walk in the park. It’s a task that needs to consider the unique demands of many different sports, ensuring the athletes are comfortable, able to perform at their best, and looking united under one team. This balancing act often results in kits that might seem a bit bland, like the Adidas kit for Team GB in the Paris Olympics. If you asked an AI to design a British Olympic kit, you might get something pretty similar.


A Star-Studded Lineup

In the promo images, we see taekwondo stars Bianca Cook and Caden Cunningham, long jumper Jazmin Sawyers, and sprinter Nethaneel Mitchell-Blake gearing up for the Olympics in July. For the Paralympics in August, there’s Olivia Breen and Zak Skinner, who both compete in long jump and sprints, along with sprinter Thomas Young. They all look amazing, but that’s probably because they’re full of hope and excitement for the big event, not just because of their outfits.


The Union Jack and Its Colors

The kits feature the classic red, white, and blue of the union jack, mainly through color blocking. Sawyers rocks a red hoodie, while Cunningham sports a royal blue quarter zip. It could have been a cool idea, maybe even a clever way to reimagine a flag with a complicated history, but it gets a bit lost with the “seen from space” graphics. Sure, the team name needs to be visible, but just having “Great Britain” plastered across their chests, whether on a vest or a tracksuit top, feels pretty unimaginative.


A Touch of History

The current blandness might be because Adidas’ in-house design team created this kit, unlike the past when fashion icons like Stella McCartney designed the Olympic kits for 2012 and 2016. Those designs still stand out for fashion lovers. The 2012 kit with its chopped-up union jack or the 2016 kit with a blown-up lion might not have been everyone’s cup of tea, but they showed what’s possible when a designer outside of sportswear is involved. Just imagine a 2024 kit designed by someone like British sportswear genius Saul Nash!


Function Over Fashion

There are some good points, though. Eighty-six percent of the kit designs are adaptive, meaning both able-bodied and disabled athletes can wear them. This week, Team USA released their kits, and some female athletes initially complained they were too revealing. In contrast, Sawyers’ low-rise shorts and cropped vest top (also worn by 400m sprinter Laviai Nielsen) look like designs that let women focus on their performance.


You could argue that keeping the design simple and functional helps athletes stay focused on their goals. The press release mentions a nice touch – textured writing so athletes can “feel the passion rising from the typeface” when they run their hands over it. It might look plain to fashion critics, but maybe this kit is all about helping athletes do what they came to do – win. We’ll have to wait until July to see if it works.


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