LONDON — When it comes to brand-name apparel at these Olympics, there is much to love. Puma’s greensleeves-and-skinny ties ensemble for the Jamaicans at the Opening Ceremony. Adidas’ Union Jack-on-the-track unis for Team Great Britain’s runners (and cyclists). Nike’s for the U.S. women sprinters.
And then there is Bosco. The Russian “lifestyle brand” operates on an entirely different stylistic planet. One on which grown men — leaders of athletes, even — are seen at the Olympics wearing this paisley hybrid:
(That’s a Russian race-walking coach on the left, and a Ukrainian gymnastics coach on the right.)
Bosco is nowhere in the U.S., but it’s everywhere at the Olympics. The blog’s first Bosco Report was filed from the Vancouver Games, where the Boscans were supplying the Russian and Ukrainian teams with gear as well as hyping up Sochi, where Bosco will be an official partner in 2014. They were back in full force in London, with a store in the mall near Olympic Park and a Bosco Club on The (actual) Mall leading to Buckingham Palace.
And Bosco’s empire is expanding: At this Olympics, much to the dismay of style-conscious Spaniards, they made the official gear for Spain … including the 130-pound masterpiece of a track jacket seen below. One Spanish tennis fan I met at Wimbledon speculated that Bosco was the real reason Rafael Nadal didn’t appear in the Olympics: “He didn’t want to get stuck wearing those outfits.”
Actual Spanish athletes lashed out on Twitter against the Bosco-abominations. Carlos Moya wrote, “Looking forward to seeing [fellow tennis player] Feliciano Lopez wearing the official Olympic uniform. He’ll never have worn anything so ugly in his life.”
A reader on the web site of Spanish newspaper El Pais said that the gear looked like “a costume for a lion tamer.”
But has a lion tamer ever had a popped collar this stunning?
There was no such uproar from the Russians or Ukrainians. They’ve been indoctrinated to Bosco style for years. As the saying goes, you’re not a real UKRAINE fan unless you’re willing to have it sequined on the front of your t-shirt.