04 May 2012 by

NEXT Unveils Olympic Formalwear collection – EXCLUSIVE FIRST LOOK

Today official Olympic sponsor NEXT has unveiled the Team GB formalwear collection and Grazia Daily was lucky enough to get a sneaky peek. Earlier in the week we visited Next HQ and met with the Olympic team fashion – Next designer Michael Woodhouse, three times Olympian Sarah Wincklass, and Olympic hopeful Lawrence Halstead. The ‘formalwear’ collection will be worn by all British athletes during smart occasions (i.e. when they are presented to the Queen, but not for the closing/opening ceremonies,the outfits for which are currently still TOP SECRET) so we were keen to see our team’s togs – especially as they are going to be up against Ralph Lauren’s looks for team US and Giorgio Armani for the Italian competitors.

NEXT Unveils Olympic Formalwear collection – EXCLUSIVE FIRST LOOK

Jenna Randall, Synchronised Swimmer, Louis Smith, Olympic Gymnast

We have to say we were pleasantly surprised by this year’s efforts and extremely impressed with the thought that has gone into the team’s posh kit. Firstly the designs – all in a sexy midnight blue - come in a whopping 66 different sizes, taking into account the wildly different body shapes of our 900 Olympic athletes. All the breathable technical fabrics have been custom designed – with glued seams and bonded sides to offer a sporty feel. “Athletes are used to living in tracksuits,” says ex-rower and Olympic medallist Sarah Wincklass, “so we didn’t want them to feel constrained – there needed to be enough room for their muscles to make them feel comfortable and confident.”

NEXT Unveils Olympic Formalwear collection – EXCLUSIVE FIRST LOOK

Lawrence Halstead, Olympic Fencer, Kerri Ann Payne, Olympic Open Water Swimmer

One of the biggest shockers is that the women’s team will be wearing dresses – cut with a dropped waist with a laser cut Union Jack motif backed in shimmering gold foil - teamed with a soft, unstructured jacket.

“Lots of the women were really anti the idea of wearing a dress, but when they felt the sportiness of this style they were positive.” Similarly the shoes were a sticking point – while we’d be up for offering our female Olympians a bit of leg lengthening stiletto action Wincklass points out it might not be such a good idea “The idea of high heels giving an athlete a sprained foot or even a blister was totally out of the question, so we worked with osteopaths – athletes live in trainers or flip flops so our muscles and the way we walk is totally different from the rest of the world – we can’t afford to stretch a muscle anywhere!”

Beijing 2008 official outfits

A year and a half in the making, Woodhouse says he was trying to capture “The way modern women dress today. I just hope that everyone wearing the formal wear feels pride in what they have achieved.”The men’s look is equally considered with this year’s ‘Better Never Stops’ motto stitched in gold onto the underside of the collar and imprinted onto the buttons. A version of the men’s suits will be available at Next on 19th May for £220.

Ralph Lauren Olympic Unifrom for Team USA

And what does the outfit mean for our Olympic hopefuls? While fencer Lawrence Halstead – who has been training every day in the lead up to the Games – talks of the closing ceremony party (the Olympic village is dry until the closing ceremony) and meeting Catherine Middleton, he says, “When you wear something great it makes you feel confident and proud to be part of this team.” A man after our own heart. Go Team GB!


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