Crystal-strewn leotards, boxy shirts cut high on the thigh, myriad hair colours, glaring eyewear and abstract printed whites — these aren’t something you expect to see on sportspersons, as functionality always takes precedence over fashion. However, in today’s time, fashion isn’t frivolous. It is a way of self-expression and is amalgamated with comfort and functionality. And at the Tokyo Olympic Games this year, we see fashion take centre stage even as the sport remains the priority.
“I have always loved smart designs and I love seeing fashion at the Olympics because the focus is less on fashion and more on functionality and design. I strongly believe that smart design can amplify your look. Fashion needs to be comfortable and should offer the user a range of mobility. And these factors are the most important when designing for the Olympics,” says designer Kunal Rawal.
He adds, “I also believe wearing your country’s colour or seeing them on an athlete help unify the nation. Once functionality and mobility are taken care of, you can experiment with adding layers of shine and sequence. At the end of the day, fashion can only amplify the effect of the garment by making the athlete more comfortable or more confident while performing in front of a large audience.”
Amid the pandemic, our sartorial choices have realigned and it is something we see reflected in the uniforms at the Olympics, too. “The Tokyo Olympics are unparalleled as they are taking place amid a pandemic and, therefore, have no spectators. However, this year we have also seen the coolest designs and eye-catching looks on the contestants. From Ralph Lauren to Lacoste, various designers have created looks according to their heritage, culture and aesthetics. Some really cool collaborations have taken place for uniforms, and my personal favourite is team India, with their gold and navy uniforms. Another fashion favourite is the Liberian uniform and also the Ralph Lauren aesthetics for the USA are classy,” says designer Shruti Sancheti.
Fashion is all about self-expression, and today’s sports stars are giving a message of individuality, feel designers. “I think so much of style today is a labour of self-expression and a creative assertion of identity and individuality. The Olympics are a perfect platform for sports stars to assert themselves and make a mark, even sartorially. Especially after the uncertain circumstances hovering over the games and the fear of the pandemic prevailing, these costumes bring lightness, irreverence and personality to the games. It doesn’t only bring joy to the athletes and their audience, but also reassures the next generation that it’s okay to be yourself,” says designer Nachiket Barve.