The Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics, beginning Feb. 2, have officially kicked off with each country parading through the “Bird’s Nest” for the opening ceremony. In addition to the opening ceremony allowing each home country to share its history and culture, it is also a large fashion show, showcasing uniforms that exemplify the culture and pride of each country.
Historically, the Olympic uniform has been designed to represent the home country’s unity and patriotic pride. Though there has been controversy with brands like Nike designing American uniforms which some speculate were manufactured overseas, countries often choose homegrown fashion houses such as Lululemon for Canada, Adidas for Great Britain and Telfar for Liberia. This year, the U.S. Olympic Committee has chosen to collaborate with Nike, Spyder, Skims and Ralph Lauren at the forefront as the official opening ceremony uniforms.
The U.S. Olympic Committee’s collaboration with Ralph Lauren is no surprise, as they have designed for previous American Olympic teams and are known for their collaboration with large sporting events such as Wimbledon and the Australian Open. Ralph Lauren is an obvious choice, as it has always exemplified American essentialist fashion and athletic excellence in its brand identity. The brand exemplifies the definition of athleisure as we understand it, and represents the term by tying in traditional athletic clothing such as polo uniforms and rugby shirts with items for everyday wear.
However, newcomer Skims is a surprise. The brand, founded by Kim Kardashian and launched in 2019, has become a hit despite early controversy, selling lingerie and shapewear under the ethos of Kardashian’s famous figure. The brand captures an earthy, casual athleisure aesthetic which blended well with the popularization of loungewear during the pandemic.
Though unexpected, the inclusivity of Kardashian’s Skims is the perfect addition to an all-American uniform. As the founder of Skims, Kardashian represents a more modern American iconography. Whereas Ralph Lauren’s brand identity represents an American fashion legacy, Kardashian’s path to success has been one which has revolutionized body positivity in the shapewear industry.
Kardashian has no doubt been an American icon of the 21st century and one of the most recognizable people of our time due to her ability to capture American audiences through adaptation, self-awareness of her brand and innovation in expanding her empire. Her mark of capitalizing off of her internet presence has set the stage for internet influencers. This career, often generating new money, has created a more diverse representation of wealth and status.
Skims’ mainstream success and Olympics collaboration solidifies the legacy of Kardashian and her mark on the cultural landscape. Previously, people might have asked “What’s more American than apple pie?,” with the modern translation being “What’s more American than Kim Kardashian?”