Quilting Blog

The Surprising Connection Between Quilts and Fashion at the Winter Games

Did you watch the Opening Ceremonies of the Sochi Winter Games? If so, you may have noticed that several outfits worn by the celebrated athletes resembled patchwork quilts. Athletes hailing from the United States, Germany and Norway, along with stadium volunteers wore some of the most talked about uniforms.

Opinions of the clothing ranged from "love it" to "hate it." Decked out with patriotic colors and graphics, the quilt-inspired uniforms made quite a splash on camera.

Let's take a closer look at fashions seen at the Winter Games. Would you wear any of these looks?

Ralph Lauren for Team USA

Team USA Sweaters by Ralph Lauren
Photo via Ralph Lauren

When Ralph Lauren envisioned the sweaters worn by Team USA at the 2014 Winter Games, he found his inspiration in an unlikely place: patriotic quilting. All 230 U.S. athletes wore Lauren's signature sweaters during the Sochi Opening Ceremony. We can't help but think of the sweater as an updated version of a vintage hobo quilt.

Ralph Lauren unveiled America's new look two weeks before the Winter Games on NBC's Today Show, to mixed reactions from the public. "It's almost like an ugly Christmas sweater vest mixed with some yoga pants," CBS Sports reported. Yet the same look also had its many supporters, given that the limited-edition version of the Team USA cardigan completely sold out at the Ralph Lauren online store the first weekend of the Games.

Ralph Lauren for Team Norway

Swiss Curling Team in Chevron Suits
Photo via Loudmouth Golf

Team Norway made a statement in a red, white and blue leisure suit worn by the men's curling team. Ralph Lauren also designed this look, a chevron pattern, which we think is reminiscent of a rail fence quilt. The team's coach, Pal Trulsen, jokingly said, "You’ll not see me wearing them -- except maybe at a bad-taste party or something."

Still, the team members seem to have fun with the loud suit and pants. After all, they had a reputation to live up to. After the international attention given to their 2010 pants, fans of the slacks developed a Facebook page dedicated to Team Norway's pants. It is now 545,000 members strong.

Burton for Team USA

Patchwork-styled Winterwear for Snowboarders
Photo via Burton™

Vermont-based snowboarding outfitter Burton designed the official outerwear for Team USA from a vintage quilt pattern found at an antique fair. The patchwork quilt was scanned and reprinted onto all-weather fabric and sewn into the fashionable coats seen above. Yahoo News reported that the company faced some controversy over the uniforms, which were made in the USA but with fabric printed overseas.

Even still, the coats were assembled in the States. With their muted tones, plaids, stripes and vintage-looking patches on the sleeves, these classy jackets whispered "quilt" rather than screaming it.

Sochi volunteer uniforms

Colorful Olympic Volunteer Outfits - Sochi 2014
Photo via Shutterstock/Alexander Mak

Finally, we have to comment on one of the brightest uniforms to appear on TV during the Sochi Winter Games. More than 25,000 volunteers are supporting the 2014 athletic events, and they can be spotted from far away wearing speckled rainbow coats. The Sochi 2014 organizers report, "The uniform's design is based on the visual look of the Games in Sochi -- the "patchwork quilt" - representing the whole of Russia in all its diversity." The graphic pattern of the uniforms ties to art quilting and improv piecing.

What did you think about the fashions seen at the Sochi Winter Games?


Joy French

Great sweaters, faded patchwork coats are ok. Love Russia’s volunteers jackets.

Diane Calesso

Lauren + Burton really missed the mark with these faux quilt designs. What a shame our finest athletes have to wear such ghastly outfits!


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