Team GB 2012 Olympic kit revealed
- 22 March 2012
- From the section UK
Team GB's athletes will step out in a dark indigo blue kit, inspired by the union flag, with red shoes, when they compete at the 2012 London Olympics.
Leading designer Stella McCartney, who collaborated with Adidas, said it combined style with performance.
She was at the Tower of London launch where athletes modelling the technical kit said it had the "wow" factor.
But some people have criticised the outfits as "too blue" and looking more Scottish than British.
McCartney, Team GB creative director at Adidas, has designed the Olympic and Paralympic athletes' clothing for competition time, training, medal ceremonies and relaxation time - known as 'Village wear'.
She said the kit was designed to bring the athletes under one look and feel, with British competitors in all 26 Olympic and 20 Paralympic sports wearing part of the same 590-piece collection.
The "untraditionally British" design features a contemporary take on the union flag, she said.
"Something that was very important to me was to try and use that very iconic image but to dismantle it and try to soften it, break it down and make it more fashionable in a sense."
But Scottish pentathlete Mhairi Spence and some commentators on Twitter have criticised the deconstructed flag, which features pale and dark blue instead of the traditional red.
Spence wrote: "Little disappointed! Doesn't look very GB!! It just needs more RED!"
While @donaldjdonald, said: "Turquoise, white and blue is the new red, white and blue apparently. Did someone forget to order the red dye for the Team GB Olympic kit?"
Asked about the criticism, McCartney told the BBC: "I wanted to start with the union flag, but I'm really aware the reds, whites and blues are in other nations' flags and sometimes you can feel quite confused when you are watching the Games... is that American, is that French?
"I wanted to make it slightly more delicate and have more texture.
"It's very recognisable still, I've represented all the parts of Great Britain. There's a lot of red in there, but in a non-traditional way."
The designer said the athletes' performance was key in creating the kit as well as ensuring it gave them confidence.
"You have to make the athletes feel like they are in the height of their performance. That they are wearing technical gear that is absolutely going to shave off the tiniest part of a second.
"Something that came across early on was that they want to feel and look like they are a team and there is such power in that.
"When I talked to the athletes I asked them: 'Do you feel different when you look good, do you think it enhances your performance?' and they all said 'yes'.
"You shouldn't have to sacrifice style for sport."
While German-owned Adidas had the technology to make the outfits breathable, footwear lighter and form streamlined, McCartney's role was different.
"I spoke to Sir Chris Hoy and said, 'what can I do to help in any way?' And he said, 'I just want to look cool'."
Speaking at the launch, team GB BMX rider Shanaze Reade told the BBC when athletes "pulled the kits out of the packets we just thought 'Wow!'"
She said putting on the kit for the first time enhanced the feeling that the Games were "on the doorstep now".
Olympic gold medal-winning cyclist Sir Chris Hoy, who worked with the designers on the kit, said he was delighted with the outcome and suspected other nations would be envious of their look.
He said: "It's very important that you feel confident in your kit and you feel good in it because you don't want to be thinking about it when you're competing.
"To know that you've got the fit correct, it's aero-dynamic, it's efficient when you're on the bike, that's a big part of your performance."
The four-time Olympian said the kit was also crucial to team unity.
"You want to step out there looking the same as a unit. If you're all wearing exactly the same kit, you all look smart and you all look together, it's quite intimidating to other countries.
"The kit looks fantastic and a bit of a twist to have the union flag incorporated in it but not in an obvious way.
"I think it's really classy... and one I think we will all enjoy wearing."
Across all sports, the kit will comprise up to 175,000 items of clothing for up to 500 Olympic and 350 Paralympic athletes and includes 38 types of footwear.
Triathlete Alistair Brownlee, who is fighting back to fitness after tearing his Achilles, said the tri-suit was a "fantastic" piece of kit considering that "it's notoriously difficult to get it right, because it has to be not too baggy for the swim, but tighter for the cycle and the run".
"Standing here in London, wearing the kit, it's definitely creeping up on us now," he said.
And gymnast Louis Smith said his pale blue trousers and Union Jack vest were "comfortable, nice to wear, professional and sexy".
"With gymnastics, it's important because you're being judged on how you look," he said.
"I'll be performing the hardest routine in the world. With great risk comes great reward, and I've got to pull it off."
The daughter of former Beatle Paul and the late Linda McCartney, Stella McCartney heads up her own fashion house, launched in 2001.
She graduated from Central St Martins, London, in 1995, was creative director at Parisian label Chloe from 1997 and has worked with Adidas on sportswear since 2004.
While Adidas is the official kit sponsor, it has been reported some British athletes may have to step on to the podium barefoot due to a row with the British Olympic Association (BOA) over marketing rights.
Agents of top competitors sponsored by Nike have told the BOA their athletes would be in breach of contract if forced to wear Team GB's official presentation outfit.
But the BOA has said it is a "non issue" and athletes would wear the footwear that is provided as part of their presentation kit, as with previous Games.