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Olympic Fashion: The Road to Rio Paved With Retail Gold

How is Olympic fashion impacting retail? See the data behind the official team sponsors, Nike, Adidas and Ralph Lauren, as Rio's industry impact.
Olympic Fashion: The Road to Rio Paved With Retail Gold | EDITED

Are sports fields the new runways? As activewear continues to dominate globally, there’s no place  better to capture the attention of your leggings-loving customer than on the world’s biggest athletic stage.

Right now, there are more than 2,000 items online identifying as ‘Olympic’. One week out from Rio’s time to shine, here’s how the biggest players in retail are getting match fit.

Up first, the official Olympic team sponsors

Ralph Lauren

Unlike all but two other countries, the US Olympic team doesn’t receive a cent from the government. Instead they rely on donations from official supporters big and small. Cue Ralph Lauren’s  “You shop, they win” campaign. Fronted by six Olympians and Paralympians, the  167 piece collection gives shoppers the opportunity to directly support the red, white and blue’s finest on the quest for gold, by shopping.

The earliest pieces arrived in mid-April. Since then, two pieces have  sold out and  only one item has been discounted (a striped polo dress, down 40%). Sales are looking fairly healthy however, with 39 products currently sold out in at least one size.  Bestsellers include the $350 red, white and blue  men’s ceremony  shoe and a women’s half-zip pullover (since restocked).


Nike are behind  the medal-ceremony uniforms for the  US Olympic and Paralympic teams, but don’t expect to buy one anytime soon. Medal winners only, please. For us with more than 0.2% body fat,  the brand currently has a range inspired by the ‘raw, kinetic energy  of Rio de Janeiro’ which is made up of 26 pieces, including t-shirts, hoodies and windbreakers  for men and women, as well as football boots and sneakers for kids. On average a Nike men’s tee costs $30, but this special offering creates  a 17% premium, with tees coming in at $35.

Nike’s also got 104 items in its red, white and blue  Team USA range which began  arriving online at the end of March. The offering includes shorts, sliders, tees, singlets and hoodies alongside technical running performance-wear. Only four pieces have sold out so far, though all products  remain  at  full price, with average price of $35 across the offering.

Adidas x Stella McCartney

Stella McCartney has designed the Team GB uniforms, in collaboration with Adidas. Thirteen styles arrived online at Adidas on May 2, and a podium jacket was added on June 30 (7 items for  men and 7 for women). The cheapest was a $43 tee, the most expensive the $114 jacket. All have sold out, none of them discounted. There are still ten styles available at  and 13 at Harrods.

At $43 for a women’s tee, the Team GB offering undercuts the average Stella McCartney x Adidas tee price of $64, but is a 53% hike on regular Adidas line tees.  That’s a pretty smart place for the limited edition line to sit, tapping into the design credentials of McCartney at a more accessible price point for the regular Adidas shopper. Who knows, they may even score some new shoppers for the ongoing collab.

Stella McCartney  Olympic range: priced cleverly between Adidas average &  collab’s normal average.


Still carrying the torch after  2014’s Winter Olympics in Sochi, H&M have its nation’s athletes covered for Rio. Though  customers won’t be able to get their hands on the yellow and navy uniforms, they’ll have full access to the retailer’s 22-piece “For Every Victory” collection that comes backed by  former gold-medalist  Caitlyn Jenner and other athletes. The collection  arrived at the retailer’s US store on July 21, covering men’s, women’s and accessories. The women’s leggings in that offering are retailing at between  17% and  33% more than regular sports tights at H&M. Much like the successful Ivy Park line, the color palette for this collection is muted.


The Australian team uniform was panned by the press for its antiquated look (well, it was based on the uniform of the 1924 competitors in Paris). True enough, the more-or-less preppy uniform, by Australian retailer Sportscraft, doesn’t really reflect the current relaxed and functional forms of athleisure. And since  no riffs on it arrived in stores, it seems  the retailer assumed the look wouldn’t quite connect. Instead, it launched a range of six  print-strewn items in collaboration  with Brazilian artist Ana Strumpf. The tote and scarf have sold out in two weeks, and the shoes from the line are sold out in all but one size.

Okay, but what’s non-sponsor retail is doing?

Olympic-themed product upped its presence in beginning March this year. More than half of the items that have arrived since March 1 are, for the most part, on the mass market while  just  4% are luxury. Tops and footwear are the category focus, while 43% of product is womenswear, 43% menswear and 14% childrenswear. Let’s take a look at how product is competing.

There are two camps for retailers responding to the event. First up, a swathe of  retailers upping their athleisure game or drawing attention to Olympic themed sportswear. The other team are  retailers that  have  used Rio De Janiero as inspiration for non-athletic items. Think colors, prints and toucans.

Sweaty Betty  

Sweaty Betty are the best example of an activewear retailer that’s not involved in official uniforms getting its  Olympic fix. Throughout this year, the retailer has introduced activewear and swim items featuring Rio-inspired prints or the words ‘Rio’. The bikini, which looks fit for Ipanema beach with its neon straps, is the only item still in stock, having arrived on June 1. Earlier pieces, arriving in January, were reduced before going offline. Our favorite? Leggings and tops with  allover print featuring dumbbells, skipping ropes, water bottles and other sports equipment.


ASOS have done the formalwear/closing ceremony outfits for the Paralympics. The sleek navy blue looks aren’t available for purchase. Instead, on July 20, ASOS introduced  a green one-piece swimsuit with the slogan  ‘Rio’ by Missguided. That’s not sold out yet, but a longline ribbed  vest with  ‘Rio de Janeiro’, introduced on July 1, has. There’s just one Rio print tee for men stocked, by River Island.


Topshop launched a whole line of Rio-themed products in April, including green and blue crochet skirt and crop top, a ‘Rio print’ jumpsuit, a parrot MA1 bomber and parrot sequin mom jeans. These items have flown. Bar the crochet bralette, which was discounted, there’s very little left in stock.  There’s a lesson in the data: retailers that  respond to a world event  with care,  thinking about how to turn that into a product story  that’s  relevant to their consumer win gold.

The Have-Nots

There are some notable omissions on the Olympic roll call. Uniqlo are unseasonably early in talking about new season Fall flannel, padded gilets and HeatTech on their homepage. And Lululemon, despite their involvement with the Canadian volleyball team, have chosen not to reference the event with online product or in marketing so far.