Olympics uniform made offshore

MICHELLE COOKE
Last updated 14:31 29/06/2012

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One of New Zealand's top fashion designers has hit out at the official Olympic uniform, saying it's a "real slap in the face" that it was neither designed or made in the country the team are representing.

The official uniform was revealed yesterday, but while the contract was given to New Zealand company Rodd & Gunn, it was designed and made offshore.

WORLD's Denise L'Estrange-Corbet said there were plenty of talented New Zealand designers and clothes-makers and it was "outrageous" that they weren't used.

"They herald this uniform and then you find out it's not even made in the country. The Olympic Committee should have said 'we picked you to do it, if you make it in New Zealand you can have it but if not we'll give it to someone else'.

"I just don't see the point in them walking out in these New Zealand jackets and trousers and then taking them off and it says 'made in wherever'," she says.

"If you're representing a country hopefully you're representing them 100 per cent."

Rodd & Gunn's head designer, Australian-based Czech Irena Prikryl, designed the uniform and the material, which she sourced in Italy. The uniform was then made in Turkey, China and Italy.

The Olympic Committee has defended its decision, saying Rodd & Gunn is a well-reputed brand with an established history in New Zealand.

"Our brief to them was to make an outfit New Zealanders would be proud of, and they've absolutely nailed that," a spokeswoman said.

"Like many companies they employ people from other countries."

Prikryl used the 1948 uniform as a template for her design. The official uniform uses a black-and-grey colour scheme, with shirts and trousers for men and an A-line dress for the women.

Both genders have black blazers with white piping, which is almost identical to the 1948 uniform. The women's dresses are made with the print Prikryl created, which includes the silver fern and the Olympic symbol.

It was only fitting that Rodd & Gunn's head fashion designer designed the uniform, regardless of where she was based, a company spokeswoman said.

"These uniforms are designed by Rodd & Gunn so they have got to be conducive to the Rodd & Gunn brand," she said.

"In regards to the fabric, it's a custom print designed especially for it.

"They sourced the best quality fabric from around the world. The fact it's sourced from Italy is certainly not a negative thing."

L'Estrange-Corbet did not take issue with the material being sourced from Italy, as there is no fabric manufacturing base in New Zealand, so designers had no choice but to get material from overseas.

But it was a "great shame" that a New Zealand designer wasn't used and that the uniform wasn't made here.

"I think it's a real slap in the face. They really need to think about the industry they're supporting," she says.

"I can't imagine the English team's uniform was designed in Bulgaria. People would just say 'why'?"

"It's not a good decision because if you're representing New Zealand everything should be New Zealand if it possibly can be."

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While the uniform was essentially designed by Prikryl, athletes including Mahe Drysdale, Nathan Twaddle, Chantal Brunner and Sarah Ulmer had some input.

The uniform also included a T-shirt designed by Wellingtonian Gareth Gardner, who beat 3500 others in a competition and the casual and training wear range was designed and manufactured by international sportswear company PEAK Clothing.

- Stuff

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