The Tokyo Summer Olympics kicked off with a somber opening ceremony surrounded by protests and the ongoing pandemic. However, the Parade of Nations provided us with exuberant national uniforms to (sort of) distract from the nearly-empty stadium.
Fashion has been an integral part of the games since the early days of the modern Olympics. Over the decades, we’ve seen everything from traditional garb to designer tracksuits to fanny packs. And each nation always brings its own style and color to the ceremony.
To wrap up the first week of the Tokyo games, we’ll take you on a stroll through our favorite Olympic looks through the ages, as well as a couple of WTF moments from Tokyo 2020.
The first modern Olympic Games took place in Athens in 1896. For the 14 “founding fathers” of Team USA, this meant a 17-day journey by boat and train. They arrived one day before the start of the games and went on to win 20 medals.
Women were finally invited to participate in the Olympics in 1900. Charlotte Cooper became became the first female Olympic tennis champion as well as the first individual female Olympic champion. Girl power!
The German women's team competed in the 4 x 100 meter dash race at the Berlin Olympics in 1936....in trousers and sweaters!
A few decades later, American sprinter Wilma Rudolph wins at the 1960 Summer Games - in a much sleeker (and comfortable) uniform.
Getting some Harry Potter vibes? So are we! The French team’s uniform for the Montreal games in 1976 look like they're straight out of Beauxbatons Academy of Magic.
In 1984, Team USA looked very Jane-Fonda-aerobicize ready in patriotic sweatsuits and matching red visors.
The Lithuanian basketball team couldn't afford to participate in the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona. After reading about it in their local newspaper, the Grateful Dead funded the team's expenses and sent a box of tie-dyed outfits in Lithuania’s national colors. ⠀
The outfits the Mexican delegation wore at the 2012 Olympic Games incorporated traditional patterns worn by the indigenous of Mexico. However, they were widely criticized for their modern, neon colors.
American fashion house Ralph Lauren has designed Team USA's outfits for every opening ceremony Parade of Nations since 2008. This year’s outfits were patriotic and eco-friendly (yay!) - but what’s with the huge Polo logo on the blazer?
Latvia’s athletes wore metallic silver dresses under a sheer, plastic-like jacket. They were part equal parts space age uniforms and '90s era club wear.
The flag bearers from the Bahrain team looked stunning in rich textures and colors.
Contrary to what some twitter users had to say about Team Ukraine's outfits, we dig them! Seriously, how can you hate on neon yellow fanny packs?
Last but not least...the delegation from Tonga! We love Malia Paseka's assymetrical hemline (almost) as much as Pita Taufatofua's shirtless look.
There were plenty of meh moments throughout the Parade, but the ones that stood out the most were the looks created by well known and respected fashion designers.
We weren't in love with the Armani-designed outfits on the Italian crew.
...Or these lab coat inspired looks designed for the French team by Lacoste.
What were some of your favorite looks? Head over to the Visva app and let us know!
We'll leave you with a playlist curated by Berklee College of Music and inspired by the music of the world. Enjoy!