Team GB 2012 Olympic kit revealed

TeamGB athletes Athletes say the kit has the 'wow' factor but some people have criticised it as 'too blue'

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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'.

Team GB Olympic kit launch

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."


Where Stella McCartney has excelled in her collaboration is in understanding how to create the perfect mix of sportswear functionality with fashion edge.

Her approach to design is so successful because she understands the demands and desires of the modern market, underpinning this by addressing both the practical and the desirable.

The beauty of the union flag is that it gets reinterpreted every generation.

From the Mods in the 1960s to Geri Halliwell in the '90s Britpop era and to Alexander McQueen's torn and tattered fin de siècle tailcoat for David Bowie.

By deconstructing the union flag and using this as a motif for the construction and design of the Team GB kit, Stella has reinvigorated it for the 21st Century and made it have a fashionable dynamism that is both relevant and modern as contemporary sportswear.

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."

Where the kit was made

  • Great Britain
  • Portugal
  • Turkey
  • Sri Lanka
  • China
  • The Philippines
  • Indonesia
  • Vietnam
  • Thailand

Source: Adidas

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'."

Stella McCartney: "It is like nothing I have ever worked on before"

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".

London 2012 - One extraordinary year

London 2012 One extraordinary year graphic

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.

Sir Chris Hoy in Stella McCartney-designed 2012 kit Sir Chris Hoy told Stella McCartney the athletes wanted to 'look cool'

"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."


  • USA - Nike
  • Russia - Bosco
  • Germany - Bogner, Adidas and Sioux
  • Australia - Adidas
  • China - Anta for the formal uniform, various sponsors for sports kit

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.


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  • rate this

    Comment number 623.

    Hopefully she got a cheque for payment, but with the signature missing.

  • rate this

    Comment number 622.

    87. "Being a trained Graphic designer myself I am disappointed that we have not used the most GRAPHIC FLAG in the world to better use!"

    Being a trained graphic designer, you should know that it is precisely because our flag is so identifiable by its pattern of crosses that the colours can stand to be altered without reducing recognition. The kits are clearly British.

  • rate this

    Comment number 621.

    Is it too late to take it back? I'm sure Team GB will have kept the receipts!

  • rate this

    Comment number 620.

    "Andrew Groves
    Fashion Design course leader, University of Westminster"

    talks absolute bobbins Thankfully he is not 'course leader' in anything important.
    Fabric and cut of sports clothing is designed by the relevant sport, through years of trial and refinement. All Stella had to do was add the colour - which was manifestly beyond her.

  • rate this

    Comment number 619.

    173. SurfandTurf = perfect!
    I am currently in bogota and many of the 30 year old polluting buses here even have union jacks on them. They may not know what it even represents but they and many love the design as I do.

    I would be happy to leave out a bit of the red and have more blue if the Scottish were happy with that, as they dont get the best deal in the UK, but they dont even like it!

  • rate this

    Comment number 618.

    Hard luck stella, epic fail. Did your red crayon roll down the settee?

  • rate this

    Comment number 617.

    About this outfit, Stella says on the BBC web page - "It is like nothing I have ever worked on before".

    It shows Stella, it shows.

    Lord Coe and the management team, you should hang your heads in shame.

  • rate this

    Comment number 616.

    The kits look a bit dreary to me. Too much blue. I'm with most of the posts on here. The flag definitely needs to have the red in it.

  • rate this

    Comment number 615.

    Seriously people - Get a grip!

    Noone in "insulting the English" with this.

    Take a look at the old outfits and then tell me if any of them are obviously British. I would say no (except the hideous 1990's one). Any of the others could have been the USA or France, this one is obviously GB.

    Stop outrage as your default emotion and stop, research and think for a while.

  • rate this

    Comment number 614.

    oh dear, why do they look like their mum's have all washed their gym kit at far too high a temperature, the colours are awful?
    The last thing any sane person does is employ a fashion designer for something like this, who do you think gave the world harem pants and Ugg boots?
    There is a huge difference between fashion & style, just like flares and bell bottoms we will cringe about this for years.

  • rate this

    Comment number 613.

    It would have been nice if more 'unknown' up and coming artists were used in the Olympics. This could have been a great opportunity for school children to compete to be the designer. That would have been cheaper and more inclusive. The design is boring. No disrespect to Stella, I don't blame her for taking advantage of the situation.

  • rate this

    Comment number 612.

    Major flaw with this kit. Okay you might be able to recognise Team GB if you're watching on TV, but when people actually go to the events and sit in the stands 100 yards from the action, how are you meant to recognise the British athlete? Impossible.
    When I turn up at the London Olympics, I'll probably find myself cheering on a Finn or a Greek or an Argentinian.

  • rate this

    Comment number 611.

    The design is rubbish, but a fitting complement to the 2012 London Olympics logo.

    Such garment design wont pass buyers and distributors in retail. Just goes to show that in Britain its always jobs and deals for who you know, quality in Britain counts very little, if at all.

  • rate this

    Comment number 610.

    What on earth has she done? Taken the red out almost totally and put the turquoise in the wrong place. Does she not know the union flag is NOT symmetrical !!!!! The gymnasts outfit is just plane wrong !

  • rate this

    Comment number 609.

    So Stella changes our national flag but also what has the photographer done to Jessica Ennis?

  • rate this

    Comment number 608.

    It looks:-
    Love to know just what Union Flag was used as the basis for this.

  • rate this

    Comment number 607.

    583. scanman1947

    Nice to see the racist comments starting. Using the "J" word to refer to Scots is as insulting and racist as any other derogatory term used to refer to people of other nations. I also shows a clear lack of intelligence.

  • rate this

    Comment number 606.

    I don't like it at all, Jessica Ennis looks hot though ;0)

  • rate this

    Comment number 605.

    Is there still time to change this hideous outfit before we become the laughing stock of the entire world?

    It's an absolute disaster.

  • rate this

    Comment number 604.

    Dreadful! More rubbishing of our flag & culture by people desperate to 'express themselves'.
    To quote a friend: 'the colours look washed out' -exactly, English red virtually banished, primarily Scottish blue, like the new England footbal 2nd kit. Why?!
    I'm sick of constant attempts to impose change by New Age idiots. It's just marketing for profit. We have forgotten who we, lions led by donkeys.


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