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Ralph Lauren’s Innovative Opening Ceremony Uniforms for Team USA – WWD

Ralph Lauren might still be designing ties if he hadn’t spent the past 54 years pushing envelopes.

David Lauren said: “My dad started with ties, then menswear, womenswear, shoes, Ralph Laurenson of and chief brand and innovation officer of Ralph Lauren Corp. “It’s born in the company’s DNA.”

So, with that being the backdrop, the company is once again launching a pioneering innovation, and it chose the Olympics as the backdrop to announce it.

On Thursday, Ralph Lauren will take off the Opening Ceremony Parade Uniform that Team America will wear at next month’s Winter Olympics. The design of the jacket, coat, pants, gloves and boots is clearly derived from American sportswear – and offered in a palette of red, white and blue – but it’s what’s inside that’s new. really makes a difference.

The pieces are created with Smart Insulation, a temperature-responsive fabric consisting of two distinct materials that can expand or contract at different rates in response to temperature changes. As the mercury drops, the lengths of the two materials change, causing the textile to shrink and bend, increasing the amount of insulation.

This “personal heat management” system essentially inflates to become a fan outside in cold weather but flattens out in warmer temperatures when the insulation is no longer needed, Lauren explains. “It thinks to itself, it’s very smart,” he said. And no batteries or wires like other super kettles are needed.

The technology was developed by Skyscrape after years of research and development, and required the creation of bespoke machines and a proprietary manufacturing process that was initially supported by ARPA-E at the US Department of Energy. .

“The development and introduction of Smart Insulation represents what is possible in apparel,” says Lauren. “For the first time, you can have a unique piece that offers incredible versatility and style, at different temperatures, changing the way we can think holistically about makeup in our lives. consumer wardrobe.”

The uniform also ticks the box for sustainability, eliminating the need to sew multiple times and keeping the wearer comfortable even in cold indoors. “You don’t have to heat up an entire stadium or a house,” says Lauren, “just your own personal space”.

The uniform is made in the USA from recycled polyester fibers created from post-consumer plastic bottles. This is the same fabric used for the company’s Earth Polo, a product introduced in 2019 whose thread is created from recycled plastic bottles and dyed in a water-free process.

Last week at the Australian Open, the brand introduced the RLX Clarius Polo, a shirt that features high-performance properties including quick-drying properties and moisture management, while retaining the comfort and breathability of the wearer. cotton. It was developed by Natural Fiber Welding, a company that Ralph Lauren invested in last summer.

For Parade Uniforms, Lauren said the company felt recycled polyester was the right material to use. “We have many stories about sustainability but this is groundbreaking.”

Olympic athletes Aja Evans and Rico Roman in uniform.

Olympic athletes Aja Evans and Rico Roman in uniform.
Sebastian Kim

For last year’s Summer Olympics, the company created a cooling jacket for Team America’s Opening Ceremony uniforms that uses a self-regulating temperature cooling device inside the jersey. And in 2019, it introduced a heated mooncoat with a battery pack that can be controlled wirelessly via Bluetooth technology.

Lauren said heated jackets continue to be the company’s best-seller and are part of a move to build up the group’s outerwear business. CEO Patrice Louvet “has said it should be core to Ralph Lauren’s business,” he said. The Opening Ceremony uniform is considered a “halo” for the brand’s efforts in outerwear and is expected to help continue to build the business.

The uniforms will go on sale starting Thursday on the Ralph Lauren website and select Ralph Lauren retail stores. Retail prices will range from $20 for Team America socks and $145 for Opening Ceremony gloves or beanie, to $245 for a mid-layer jacket, $295 for pants, and $1,998 for a top coat.

“There’s a lot of next-generation technology coming out and everything we do has to be forward-thinking,” says Lauren. “It’s rooted in our DNA, but we need to keep evolving. It doesn’t matter if it’s a tie or a shoe, we don’t want people to get bored, so we reinvent each season to feel new and exciting.”

Alysa Liu at the US Figure Skating Championships, 2021

Alysa Liu at the US Figure Skating Championships, 2021.
John Locher / AP

One of the first to get a peek at the parade uniform was Alysa Lui, a 16-year-old figure skater who has just been named to the US team in 2022. Lui, the national champion youngest female and to win her first title at age 13, caused quite a stir earlier this month when she had to withdraw midway at the US Figure Skating Championships in Nashville after testing positive for COVID-19 . She was in third place after the short show when the results came back, forcing her to quarantine.

In an interview from Olympic At the training center in Colorado Springs, where she’s perfecting her workouts before heading to Beijing to compete, Lui said she’s not sure she’ll be on the team after the good results.

“You have to take the test four days after landing,” she said. “I took it in the morning long before freestyle skating. I forgot if it had to be two lines or one line to be positive, so when I saw two lines, I panicked. I looked it up online but still couldn’t find out until the tester came back to the room and said I was positive. I said no!’ I was very careful and I was very confused and really worried because a lot of people said that if I get COVID-19 it means I will be automatically disqualified. But then I got the good news, so I’m really happy about that.”

Lui, who will join Mariah Bell and Karen Chen in the women’s singles, is very hopeful about the team’s chance to take home a medal. “I think we’ll all skate well and hopefully we’ll be proud and happy.”

One thing she knows is that she will dress well. As a new member of the Ralph Lauren family, Lui said she has been a fan of the brand for a while. “I like the brand,” she said. “I love red and I’m glad the American flag is red because now I get to wear a little bit of red. And I love their coats.” She said she also hopes to use parade uniforms more than just at the Opening Ceremony. “It’s quite warm. Because we’re skaters and we’re always on the rink, I’ll wear it there to keep me warm. ”

https://wwd.com/fashion-news/sportswear/ralph-lauren-opening-ceremony-uniforms-team-usa-1235039949/ Ralph Lauren’s Innovative Opening Ceremony Uniforms for Team USA – WWD

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