The unveiling of the GB Olympic kit created a furore with critics complaining that there was too much blue and not enough red. This reaction might be viewed as somewhat surprising when we look back at the uniforms for 2004 and 2008 as they clearly had the same ratio of colors. So what changed between then and now? Only the hiring of Stella McCartney as creative director partnering with activewear giant, Adidas. To many, fashion is a dirty word. Is this a case of “fashion-ist” behavior?
Stella McCartney’s Team GB Outfit for London 2012 Comes Under Fire says The Guardian referencing an article in Daily Mail which stated, “Oh no, they’ve turned the Union flag blue!” The paper reports that the freshly designed garb has “sparked outrage” for the lack of red, “effectively eliminating the St George and St Patrick crosses from the design”. Indeed, the lack of patriotic red in the final design, so the newspaper insists, amounts to a “massive fail” for the branding. On Facebook too, where the kit was unveiled, Brits have rushed to criticise the freshly made sports wear, with thoughtful posters offering such insights, as “This kit fails. Horrible. Where’s the flag?” and “an absolute disgrace, where are the union flag colours - red white and blue. How anyone has agreed this is beyond me - disgusting.”
GB Kit 2012
GB Kit 2012
The Guardian goes on to conjecture that Stella McCartney may even have disadvantaged Team GB by failing to include more red quoting a leading sports psychologist as well as an academic who has done extensive research on the impact of uniform colour on athlete performance. Professor Robert Barton, along with his University of Durham colleague Dr Russell Hill, co-authored a report in 2005 that showed that wearing the colour red consistently increased athletes’ probability of victory.
“Obviously she has designed these from a fashion point of view and was not taking into account the possible effects that might have on performance,” said Barton of the uniforms, “Given there’s an obvious justification for [including more red] and given the effects that we and other scientists have found, it does seem like a mistake.”
If that is the case it’s odd that this was not pointed out at the time of previous Olympics in 2004 and 2008. As these pictures prove, there was no more red in the GB uniforms then either.
GB Olympic Kit 2008
GB Olympic Kit 2004
Not everyone agrees that the uniforms are abhorrent. In fact The Huffington Post goes as far as to disagree that there is not enough red in the uniforms, going as far as to literally point it out where it exists.
There you have the arguments for and against the Stella McCartney-designed GB Olympic kit. Is Professor Barton right in saying she designed these from a fashion point of view, not taking into account performance or are the critics being unfairly harsh simply because she is a fashion designer?