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Fashion designers catch the Olympic spirit

  • Newsday
  • Published Monday, July 30, 2012, at 6:24 a.m.
  • Updated Monday, July 30, 2012, at 6:25 a.m.

Gymnast Jonathan Horton was just 10 when he had that first Olympic moment.

“I remember watching the 1996 Olympic Games and … the women’s gymnastic team,” he recalls. “It came down to Kerri Strug — she had to land her vault — and she did it on a broken foot. I just have this perfect memory of seeing them on the awards podium with gold medals … the national anthem playing, and that was the moment I realized … it’s time to commit myself to this idea of the Olympic Games.”

That memory comes at you not from NBC, ESPN or Sports Illustrated, but from a video of Olympic athletes — including Horton, swimmer Ryan Lochte, soccer star Heather Mitts and paralympic basketballer Matt Scott — on Ralph Lauren’s website.

These days, fashion websites are looking pretty darn sporty, as designers catch the Olympic spirit, creating gear for athletes — and fans.

Lauren, an official outfitter of the 2012 U.S. Olympic team, has designed uniforms inspired by vintage pieces worn by American athletes at London’s 1948 Summer Games. You’ll find consumer versions online, plus profiles of Olympic hopefuls.

Stella McCartney worked for more than two years on Great Britain’s team uniforms, collaborating with Adidas on technical performance pieces, footwear and accessories. Giorgio Armani is dressing Italian athletes. And Puma enlisted Cedella Marley, a designer (and daughter of reggae icon Bob) to create uniforms, podium and ceremony wear for the Jamaican Olympic team.

“Puma got that right … hooking up with a legendary Jamaican,” said team member (and world’s fastest man) Usain Bolt.

Some gear (or replicas) is available to spectators, too, along with merch from other brands.

Lauren caught flack from politicians earlier this month when they learned his Team USA gear was made in China. In response, Lauren pledged to make his 2014 Olympics outfits in America, and “lead the conversation” to increase manufacturing in this country.

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