As soon as Germany revealed their official uniforms for their participating athletes in the upcoming 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, the internet went ablaze with speculation on whether or not they were making a political statement against the recent “anti-gay” legislation passed in Russia. Others wondered if Germany has completely lost their sense of fashion. So which one is it?
The timing of the rainbow-like uniforms doesn’t help to sway the argument towards it being political, but chances are pretty high that it is merely a coincidence. Both German officials and the uniforms’ designer, Willy Bogner, claim that the design is not based on any recent gay legislation in Russia and instead is a tribute to Germany’s own 1972 Summer Olympics. Der Spiegel reports that Bogner wanted to come up with a “celebratory design, inspired by the great atmosphere of the times”. Those times he is referring to clearly look to be in the 70′s.
I dug up some promotional material for the 1972 Olympic games in Munich, and there is in fact a close resemblance in the color palate. When you compare the poster to the 2014 uniform design, you’ll also see that some colors have been left out that may have made an even more convincing case for them being a gay and lesbian political statement.
This isn’t the first time a country has shown a bad taste in fashion for their Olympic uniforms. A blog post by ESPN points to some of the more memorable fashion mistakes in previous olympic games, includingSweden’s “Where’s Waldo?”-style striped uniforms, Malaysia’s tiger design, and Russia’s own dizzying 2012 Summer Olympics uniform.
Based on the amount of time that goes into designing uniforms for the Olympic games, it is very unlikely that Germany’s choice has anything to do with making a political statement. A questionable fashion statement is more likely.