Do we want to see a repeat of this?

May 28, 2012, 08:19 IST | Ruchika Kher

Four years ago, India watched in horror as its contingent painted a miserable picture at the opening ceremony of the 29th Olympic Games in Beijing. Have any lessons been learnt? Clearly not, as we are still awaiting word on who will design the attire for the team at these important events, let alone the Olympic kit. As we draw closer to the world's biggest sporting extravaganza, Ruchika Kher tries to throw some light across the arena, on this impending dilemma

It’s the world’s biggest sporting extravaganza. And a few of the 216 nations have begun preparing aggressively on all fronts so that the Olympics don’t just remain a sporting event but also has the right dash of glamour to it. Countries like the United States, Great Britain and Italy have gone ahead and roped in world-famous designers to style sporting costumes for their respective contingents.

Rajvardhan Singh Rathore (C), India’s flag bearer parades in front of his delegation during the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games opening ceremony on August 8, 2008 at the National Stadium in Beijing. The Indian contingent’s attire was tailored by darzis from Delhi’s Malaviya Nagar and Chandni Chowk. It was reported that Sania Mirza (second from left) had to resort to sportswear because of an ill-fitting sari blouse. Pic/AFP

While Ralph Lauren has added his design aesthetics to the costumes of the US team, Stella McCartney has designed the apparel for Great Britain’s contingent. Giorgio Armani’s designs will grace the uniforms of the Italian team.

India chic at the Olympics?
On the other hand, India has still not even announced the names of the people, who will design the look of the Indian contingent for the world event. Attempts by this journalist to connect with Indian Olympic Association officials in New Delhi on this issue were futile even after repeated emails and phonecalls. “It is important to not take one’s appearance on an international platform for granted. I think we appear too amateurish when we go out there. We need to give serious thought to the look that we are going to sport at such a big platform,” believes veteran designer Ritu Kumar when informed about this bit of news.

Beijing debacle
At the Beijing Olympics in 2008, the Indian contingent painted an appalling picture at the opening ceremony owing to their ill-fitted and far-from-trendy sherwanis and sarees. In fact, some participants like tennis player Sania Mirza did not even sport the designed attire (her sari blouse didn’t fit well) and hence she had to resort to wearing the Indian team tracksuit, which stood out like a sore thumb. It was later reported in sections of the press that tailors in Delhi’s Malviya Nagar and Chandni Chowk area stitched the contingent’s costume for the opening ceremony at the eleventh hour. Clearly it didn’t go down well with our Olympians.

Ask champion boxer Vijender Singh. He recalls the debacle, “For the previous Olympiad, we were given sherwanis that didn’t even fit properly. Somehow, we had to fit into it. Well-fitted clothes are very important. If nothing very extraordinary, at least everyone should be given clothes of their size so that they don’t face difficulties at the last moment.” Thankfully for India, the apparel nightmare didn’t deter Singh from bagging bronze.

He adds, “We should have designers like Rohit Bal or Manish Malhotra to design our clothes for the Olympics because we are representing India on a global platform, and the world sees us. We need to look presentable.”

What our designers have to say

Priyadarshini Rao
I shall recommend traditional Indian attire. I would shun minimalism for this kind of an event, but also not focus on bling. As a designer, I believe appropriateness and relevance are two critical dimensions that often tend to get overlooked.

Ritu Kumar
There has been no serious attempt to design these costumes. To make an impression of an elegant yet state of the art wardrobe, one needs to have time to make a story board with colour and fabric options that co-ordinate with the general look and feel of India. As a designer, I would stay clear from folksy, ethnic looks and go for the classic bandgalas for men and sarees for women. But these have to be chic and non- fussy.

Swapnil Shinde
The contingent should have some Indian element considering we are representing the country on a global arena. However, we should also show India’s modern side because we are not just about tradition, and the fact that our youth will be present, it’s important that we showcase the younger side of India. We should sport a slightly trendy look but comfort should not be compromised.

Spain wants their own designer!
Protests are conspicuous in Spain over the employment of BoscoSport, a Russian fashion house, which has been given the mantle of producing the kit for the Spanish Olympic team. Spanish designers are seeing the move as an unforgivable insult that a Russian company is designing the Olympic kit for their country and not a Spanish one, disallowing them the opportunity to represent Spain and promote a national industry, especially in the current difficult economic climate. BoscoSport is also producing the uniforms of the Russian and Ukrainian teams.

...Meanwhile, Stella McCartney designs the kit for Great Britain

British Olympic Team in the kit designed by designer Stella McCartney during an unveiling ceremony in central London on March 22, 2012.

Famous fashion designer Stella McCartney. Pics / AFP

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