SBD/January 24, 2014/Marketing and Sponsorship

Ralph Lauren's U.S. Uniforms Ripped By Critics, Deemed "Ugly Sweater Party" Attire

Ralph Lauren's patchwork design drew a heavily negative reaction on social media
The Ralph Lauren-designed Opening Ceremony outfits Team USA will wear in Sochi have prompted "waves of disapproval from social-media critics for its patchwork woolen cardigan of stars and stripes," according to Marina Lopes of REUTERS. Social media deemed the uniforms "tacky and old-fashioned" (REUTERS, 1/23). In K.C., Melissa Schupmann writes the uniforms are "a little loud to say the least." Reaction on social media "was strong, with descriptions ranging from 'hideously ugly' to 'looks like Ralph Lauren threw up America' on the outfits." There are "supporters, too, but the consensus seems to be that the outfits would fit in well at a holiday ugly sweater party" (K.C. STAR, 1/24). In Newark, Kevin Manahan wrote under the header, "Team USA's Opening Ceremony Outfits Are ... Well, Ugly." Manahan: "Our first impressions ... Americans will win the Sochi ugly Sweater gold medal" (NJ.com, 1/23). ESPN's Keith Olbermann said when Team USA marches into the Opening Ceremony, "everybody else in the world will think the same thing: 'Look, they are all wearing the ugly sweaters their aunts sent them for Christmas'" ("Olbermann," ESPN2, 1/23). FS1's Katie Nolan: "I don’t like it. I think it looks like my grandmother made this” ("Crowd Goes Wild," FS1, 1/23). ABC's Cynthia McFadden noted some critics are saying the uniforms "look like ugly Christmas sweaters." McFadden also referenced the Norwegian curling team's loud outfits and said, "Let's hope the Games are as exciting as the outfits" ("Nightline," ABC, 1/24).

IF YOU WANT TO DESTROY MY SWEATER....: The N.Y. TIMES asked several experts to give their impressions of the outfits, and N.Y. Times fashion critic Cathy Horyn said, "The peacoat is terrific; the cardigan invites comparisons to hideous Christmas sweaters." She added the peacoat "is a spruced-up classic that is easy to like, even covet." But the sweater "oddly combines several tastes -- hipster styling, excessive sports graphics and homey patchwork, like what you might see in a traditional crazy quilt." Globe & Mail TV columnist John Doyle said the cardigans are "eye-poppingly awful." He added, "It appears the patches were attached to oversize cardigans by people unlucky to be both colorblind and uncoordinated." Four-Pins.com Editor-In-Chief Lawrence Schlossman: "These are like wearing Times Square on your body. ... My grandma could probably knit something cooler." Esquire Senior Associate Fashion Market Editor Nic Screws: "The key to accepting and embracing the look is to think of it more in terms of a uniform, and for what occasion, rather than as a pure style statement" (N.Y. TIMES, 1/24).

PUTTING ON THEIR BEST FACE
: In S.F., Ellen Lee notes The North Face is outfitting the U.S. freeskiing team, and whether the team "returns with gold or not, it's a big win for North Face." Sochi marks the "first time the company has participated in the Olympic Games, one of its biggest sponsorships yet." SportsOneSource analyst Matt Powell said that though the brand's appearance at the Games "won't likely boost sales directly, it will draw attention to its image" (S.F. CHRONICLE, 1/24).
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