Archives for category: Sports


Most of the Olympic athletes and delegates tonight sported street-smart winter gear. A lot of it will be wearable after the games. Not so the tacky garb of Team USA. A good thing they were on the back-end of the parade of nations. It was no great feat to see how hideous those über-busy sweaters are. Hide, USA! Outside the secure area, they make for easy targets. Despite the fact that the cardigans are supposedly sold out, I can’t imagine them having any long-term aftermarket value. They won’t last, for one. The boots, on the other hand, look nice.

Is it an uncanny coincidence that this fashion faux pax is a metaphor for how fragmented this country has become? The cardy is a granny quilt of feuding red and blue states squares and poorly placed verbal messaging. Has anyone counted the stars, or are they just filler? Our uniform was a chance for us to shine for two weeks. Instead, the US Olympic Committee sacrificed our brand to another big ego.

Fair warning. Taking the gold for poor execution, and embarrassing us along the way, is the self-absorbed Mr. Lauren himself. If only certain decision-makers had done some due diligence, they would have come across an October 2000 Dale Boss story about the man and his empire. Quoting Ralph: “I’ve been a big hero in this industry, and I like being a big hero.”

Made in the United States. The USOC should have selected a new designer to outfit this Olympiad’s competitors. Ralph Lauren had his chance — two, in fact — in Vancouver’s 2010 Winter Games and in Beijing’s 2008 Summer Olympics, He and his company blew both, showing everyone his lack of patriotism by choosing earnings over authenticity. Commerce over craft. Profit over pride of country. There was quite the public outcry when it was revealed that some (perhaps all?) of the official 2010 clothing was, in fact, manufactured in China.

New blood needed. As this global event so often launches athletes into stardom, the USOC could have gotten into the spirit and had the same effect by jumpstarting an aspiring artist’s career. The US has many young, yet sufficiently established designers who could have seamlessly delivered. Style, that is. Context-current, up-and-coming craftspeople who would not have taken the honor for granted. Alternatively, the The North Faces, Nikes and Patagonias could have produced something tasteful and desirable. If the USOC really wanted to get people excited about sports and attract new generations of participants and viewers, they would have signed on a Bruno Mars. Instead, what can only be aging members went with the obvious. It showed, and we deserve better.

Polo, formerly called America. As if the choice of designer weren’t bad enough, the design itself chokes. It looks committee-driven; no consensus could be reached, so a mash-up it is. The Polo word mark on the lapel is over and above the USA. In close-up shots of the athletes, that’s all you see, with part of “USA” tucked in the armpit. This placement says it all about what Mr. Lauren thinks of himself. On no other team’s outerwear did a clothing brand compete with the country name. If I didn’t know any better, I would have thought that Polo was a country. In 2010, things were better in that the Polo brand mark, the polo player, was blazer front and off-center (too far off). That alone should have been a red flag.

Off-fabric. Please…, cotton turtlenecks? I bet the bulky sweaters are also cotton. There are so many technical and new wool fabrics out there to keep you warm and looking good. Thin layering devices that perform!

Nice departures. Of note: some countries (France, Germany, Iran, Japan, Latvia, Lithuania and New Zealand) whose jackets and pants had nothing to do with their flag color. The Japanese carried small Russian and Japanese flags. And looks like the Russian women got to pick between red, white and blue parkas! Tonga’s coats-as-canvas combined the vertically placed flag along with an ocean and palm background. Well done!



All-weather, all-natural, all-terrain comfort.

Given my weakness for colder weather and passion for the polar and high-latitude regions, I’m happy to report that this base, layering and outerwear line is as high-performing as the name. Close-fitting, stylish, warm, itch-free and with quality zippers. These are the pieces you’ll wear ‘til the sheep come home. Baaaaaaa!

Even if you never break a sweat or step off the sidewalk, this is wool like you’ve never seen, felt or smelled. The “Think, don’t stink.” tagline is a layering of its own kind… a meaningful, catchy and memorable phrase that adds energy and fun to the brand.

Leave it to the Kiwis to take us back to the sustainable farm and the four-legged beginnings of what’s on our own two now. Per their unique “baacodes,” I traced my light-grey top to a single ranch, Kennethmont. My dark grey top’s fibers come from four of 120 sheep stations: Lindis Peaks, Glenmore, Otematata and Waitangi. Thanks, Icebreaker, for “new-schooling” wool.

Speed, sizzle and sass.

McKayla, love your daring acrobatics. Keep on flying!

Mighty vaulter.
Calm, cool and collected.
Killer technique.
Amazing amplitude,
You go, girl!
Lands and sticks it.

Crippled by mediocre design.

Pluses: So excited to learn from my Winnipeg friends that the Jets were heading due north. They never belonged in Atlanta anyway. Ecstatic they kept the name (it had so much going for it if only they had picked up from where they left off). Happy to hear St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador now have something to scream about.

Minuses: Disappointed that Reebok did not come up with something more inspiring and/or the hat trick of brand identity decision makers (NHL, Reebok and True North) chose something as flat and still as the Canadian prairie. Don’t get me wrong…flat and still are great in the right context. This is not that.

As a former competitive ice hockey goaltender, I feel I have earned some modicum of opinion with respect to design and the role it plays in jumpstarting brand loyalty. Supposing I am a circa 2011 Jets player, when I put on this jersey, does it inspire me to play better, to win, to be a great teammate and sportsman? Does it give me butterflies to don this logo-ed gear? Do I feel proud wearing it? Do I want to send logo-ed wearables to my friends, family and fans? Do I slap a sticker on my car or a patch on my jacket? The answer to all the above is a resounding no. The CFAC deserves a more soulful, more choreographed shout-out.

Furthermore, the tagline, “Fuelled by passion,” (yes, with a double “l”) is as crash-and-burn as they come. It’s so “done,” so “obvious,” so ‘90’s. The team and Winnipeg merited a full-throttle brand identity rather than what they got:  a watered down, emotionless, superficial, “designed by committee” knee-jerk “solution.” There are a lot better ways to say “jets” and all the positive associations it has going for it than slapping one on a logo. In fact, in the name alone, you have already said it, so the illustration is redundant! This is an example of a lost messaging opportunity a.k.a. dumbing things down. Now, I’m not advocating a ubiquitous, meaningless swish or swoosh to show energy, motion, tactical superiority, finesse, speed, etc., but that winged thing just looks parked on the tarmac. And, if they had to get the blessing from Toronto to use the maple leaf as a secondary design element, that alone means it was/is too close to the former’s logo in the first place. The dismal lack of fortitude to be original is a shame.

Management, you want game shut-outs, not fan shut-outs! The first puck of the season has not even dropped, and I’m not feelin’ it.

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