Ralph Lauren wants you to think about the "metaphorical sense" of a patchwork quilt when you watch Team USA parade through the opening ceremony of the 2014 Olympics in Sochi on Feb. 7. Thinking "patchwork quilt" certainly won't be difficult, with the knitted cardigan sweater the team will sport. Conjuring up metaphorical thoughts of so many people, customs and sports coming together is fully up to you.
The New York-based designer unveiled the uniforms for the Opening Ceremony on Thursday, showing of a strongly patriotic sweater in a color palette of red, white and navy. The "meticulously knit patchwork cardigan highlighted with handcrafted details and emblazoned with stars and spirited graphics" pairs with a cream cotton turtleneck sweater, slim-fitting white fleece athletic pants, sporty black leather boots with red laces and a cotton belt accented with patriotic graphics. And there's a knit cap to match the sweater.
The entire outfit was made in the USA, a promise on which Ralph Lauren followed through after its PR disaster of the 2012 London outfits not having that label.
Ralph Lauren is plenty happy to tell you the story of the "Made in the USA" push. The 650 uniform sweaters required 6,250 pounds of wool from the Imperial Stock Ranch, a family operation for 142 years running a 35,000-acre sheep ranch in Oregon. From there, 5,625,000 yards of wool was spun in Pennsylvania and dyed in North Carolina. Each sweater was then created in California. In all, Ralph Lauren has teamed with 40 different U.S. partners to create the Opening Ceremony look. Call it a patchwork effort, if you will.
Tim Newcomb covers stadiums, design and technology for Sports Illustrated. Follow him on Twitter at @tdnewcomb.