This year's Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, is proving to be one of the coldest locations to ever host the international sports event, due to its geographical location. While some athletes remain unfazed by sub-zero temperatures, teams require the proper gear to endure the below-freezing weather. Thus, in order to keep the 2018 U.S. Olympic and Paralympic teams toasty during the Olympics Opening Ceremony on Friday, American clothing brand Ralph Lauren unveiled high-tech official parade uniforms, which are made up of "a heated red, white, and blue down parka, a slim jean with moto-inspired seaming, and a patriotic intarsia-knit wool sweater," according to a press release by the company.
The official outfitter of Team USA since 2008, Ralph Lauren developed the uniforms with the input of the athletes themselves, and partnered with Pittsburgh-based tech company Butler Technologies; apparel manufacturer 99Degrees in Lawrence, Mass.; New York firm Principled Design; and Baltimore-based product design firm Key Tech, to create the limited-edition, heated parkas and bomber jackets.
According to a Ralph Lauren Magazine blog post, Butler Technologies produced a flexible, heat-conductive panel with screen-printed carbon and silver ink in the shape of the American flag, which was bonded onto the interior backing of the jackets by 99Degrees. KeyTech designed a small, lightweight battery pack with three heat settings and capable of running for 11 hours when fully charged. To tie it all together, Principled Design created inconspicuous-looking connectors to attach the battery pack to the heating panel. “It is not about the technology but the experience of comfort,” said Principled Design’s founder and CEO Despina Papadopoulos in the same post. “The jacket looks great without the technology, but the technology brings a new layer to the experience.”
The overall aesthetic is a patriotic salute to fans tuning in from across the nation. “Ralph Lauren has effortlessly woven style and functionality into the Opening Ceremony uniform for the 2018 U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Teams,” said Lisa Baird, U.S. Olympic Committee chief marketing officer, in the same Ralph Lauren press release. “The revolutionary design will keep American athletes warm as they proudly walk through Pyeongchang Olympic Stadium during the Opening Ceremony.”
Individuals items of the uniform is available for purchase in select Ralph Lauren stores and on the Team USA website.