What was it like to work on the Sochi Russia Olympics USA medal stand jacket???
It was a long walk down the halls of the Nike HQ to get to “the room”. On the way, you saw the original vintage Olympic posters of Olympics past proudly decorating the walls. Reminders of the pledge and commitment to sport and ideas of the camaraderie of the Olympic teams ran through me. The anticipation was mounting.
We finally reached “the room”. The Nike creative director for the Olympics opened the door. Let’s just say it was high security, something of a James Bond movie. I half expected the sound of a pressurized cabin as the door released, like the starship enterprise.
The room was purposefully dimly lit, with spotlights in just the right places. Creating a warm, almost lodge like feeling. There were mannequins outfitted from head to toe in ideas for future Olympic village apparel.
We looked through “the book” with carefully concepted ideas as possible inspirations for the Sochi Russia Olympic USA medal stand jacket and Olympic apparel. References to feelings, general ideas, nothing mapped out yet. This was the beginning, and the winter Olympics was still 2 years away.
He asked me if I could help bring in some ideas for the medal stand jacket. New techniques, design something different and special for the materials. What could I see that would fit into the mix of the direction he was taking. One of the inspirations was the legacy and heritage of vintage hockey jerseys. The authenticity, the craft.
Being part of one of the USA’s proudest moments, when the athlete takes the podium and earns his medal, and to outfit them for that crowning moment was surreal . I was going to be working on the Sochi Russia Olympics USA medal stand jacket!
So, my journey began. I started looking through techniques and ideas I had been gathering from around the world. I looked at runways of houses that I had loved to glean inspiration that I could potentially twist in a technical direction. Perhaps the scale of a print, the sheen on a material, the texture of a fabric. A silhouette that could inspire.
I went through vintage resources and found medal stand jackets of years gone by, some in the USA, some in Europe, and also in Japan checking the most well curated collections of vintage sport costumes in the world.
I traveled to global suppliers of modern day materials and checked yarns, finishes, woven and knitted products.
Then I started putting pieces together, creating materials that were a hybrid of past and present. Creating concepts that would look great on camera, perform on the athlete in the weather conditions of the Sochi climate, and be iconic enough to be a part of history.
The ideas ran a very wide gamut and I narrowed down to 5 possible concepts of varying techniques from super bold and commanding of attention, to quiet and super technical.
I presented the concepts to the Olympics creative director and the designer working with him. We narrowed down to our favorites, and then I went out into the world to start making the concepts real. Turning them from ideas into tangible products.
Those journies took me to 5 countries around the world and of course, the United States. Collaborating with partners from around the globe. Though we had a lot of time before the Olympics would start, we needed every minute of that time to go through the process of bringing it to fruition.
Once we had the product developed to the level that we felt represented it best, it was presented to the Olympic committee. We had narrowed down to our 3 favorite options.
The Olympic committee chose the titanium coated concept you see available in stores today for the Nike Aeroloft 800 jacket.
I was originally inspired by the titanium idea, feeling it stood for invincible, matching Nike and the athletes. Warm but light weight, and shining like a precious metal.
I had been waiting for over a year from those decisions being made to see the Sochi Russia Olympics USA medal stand jacket on athletes like Devin Logan for freestyle skiiing, gold medalist Jamie Anderson for women’s snowboarding, Joss Christensen gold medalist for men’s freestyle skiiing, and Meryl Davis with Charlie White as gold medalists for ice dancing figure skating.
While the Olympics happened during fashion month, competing with New York, London and Milan fashion week, the nostalgia of being part of the biggest athletic fashion moment for the USA lingers even after yesterdays closing ceremonies.
Photos taken at Nike by Carly Tati studio contributor, Portland based Takeshi Okuno. Takeshi is one of the new friends I made in my journey to build the Olympic medal stand jacket and he kindly showed me around Tokyo, where he was living at the time, while I was looking for vintage inspirations. We remain friends today!
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