From Beijing to Paris, Nike to Prada: The Olympic opportunity

    The Paris Olympics have hit Weibo and Xiaohongshu. From official team partnerships to athlete ambassadors, here’s what brands are doing to benefit from the buzz.
    Le Coq Sportif uniforms for the Paris Olympics 2024. Photo: Le Coq Sportif
      Published   in Fashion

    Catering to the needs of just about every sports enthusiast, from skateboarding and swimming, to boxing and bobsleighing, the Olympic Games is the world’s largest multi-sport event. As the July 26 start date approaches, brands are capitalizing on the occasion, in China and all over the world.

    NBCUniversal has already reportedly sold $1.2 billion in advertising for the Paris event, predicted to hit a new Olympic sales record. That number is unsurprising as over 3 billion people tuned in to watch the 2020 Tokyo Olympics in 2021, with viewership set to increase for 2024’s Games.

    As advertising accelerates, recent months have seen Chinese athletes taking center stage in luxury. Watchmaker Jaeger-LeCoultre named Olympic swimming champion Wang Shun as its new brand ambassador, F1 driver Zhou Guanyu has been named Special Olympics Global Ambassador, and Bottega Veneta’s 520 Day campaign featured table tennis player Xu Xin, golfer Ning Zetao, and gold medalist diver Guo Jingjing. Freestyle skier and double Olympic champion Eileen Gu is currently working with over 23 brands, including the likes of Bosideng, Tiffany & Co., and Louis Vuitton.

    Olympic gold medalist Wang Shun has been named Jaeger-LeCoultre's newest Friend of the House. Image: Jaeger-LeCoultre
    Olympic gold medalist Wang Shun has been named Jaeger-LeCoultre's newest Friend of the House. Image: Jaeger-LeCoultre

    Naturally, the global event is spurring widespread buzz online, despite not having started. Over on Weibo, the hashtag Paris Olympics (巴黎奥运会) has 220 million reads, with the same hashtag at 142.7 million reads on Xiaohongshu.

    Equal opportunity in uniform#

    The scale of the audience makes being an official uniform collaborator a golden opportunity for exposure and instantly elevates brand ethos within the public discourse. As British swimmer Jacob Peters, who competed at the 2021 Tokyo Olympics, tells Jing Daily in an exclusive interview, “The Olympics was founded on the principles of sport making the world a better place through friendship, togetherness and fair play. Those values and many more still apply to the Olympic Games. So, I believe it’s that association that adds credibility to brands that partner with the Games.”

    Among the various brand partnerships for official Olympic uniforms, Ralph Lauren is designing for Team USA, Lululemon is sponsoring Team Canada, streetwear brand Pigalle’s Stephane Ashpool is designing the French team’s kit under Le Coq Sportif, and Italian athletes will continue to wear Giorgio Armani. Joining Lululemon, six-year-old Vancouver-based active and swimwear brand Left On Friday continues its three-year partnership with the volleyball team, designing their official kits, too.

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    Chinese Olympians wore uniforms designed by the Beijing Institute of Fashion Technology to the Tokyo Olympic games opening ceremony in 2021. While Prada is the official partner of the Chinese Women’s National Football Team, there is yet to be confirmed news of who is designing the opening ceremony uniforms and kits for the Paris event.

    As it’s such a crucial luxury consumer market, China’s Olympic association is highly sought after, especially as the US and China are predicted to win the most gold medals – whether a Chinese designer will be participating has yet to be revealed.

    Over at Team GB, Ben Sherman has been designing kits ever since the 2004 Olympics in Athens, with 2024 marking the 20th anniversary of their first partnership.

    “Ben Sherman is such an iconic British brand and has historically represented Britishness so well over the years,” says English sprinter Desirèe Henry. “It’s a pleasure to see them back in the Olympic space and I'm honored to be wearing them.”

    Ben Sherman has designed the Team GB ceremonial uniforms and a collaborative collection. Image: Ben Sherman
    Ben Sherman has designed the Team GB ceremonial uniforms and a collaborative collection. Image: Ben Sherman

    Platform for prestige#

    Beyond amplifying brand heritage and values, association with the Olympics showcases the ability to design various sporting uniforms, whether that is gymnastics, swimming or golfing; as a result, it adds prestige to a brand’s existing sports offerings.

    “Our involvement in the Olympic Games has allowed us to showcase our ongoing commitment to quality and style on a global stage, and in turn, has supported our audience’s interest and the brand’s foray into sport-themed apparel,” says Ben Sherman Creative Director, Mark Williams.

    Earlier this year, Ben Sherman debuted a golf line, showing how Olympic partnerships can cater to in-house evolution in the sportswear categories.

    “This ongoing partnership has motivated us to embrace new opportunities in engaging with audiences while staying true to our brand ethos of quality, style, and British heritage,” says Williams on designing for the Olympics. “We blend tradition with contemporary style, creating collections that resonate with both athletes and supporters worldwide.”

    That opportunity to be connected to some of the world’s best athletes offers ample exposure to the fan bases that surround them, as well as tapping into the rising sportswear opportunities that are prevalent in the luxury space in 2024.

    Whether it is Samsonite sponsoring the US gymnastics team with suitcases to travel, or Nike SB collaborating with the official Olympics intellectual property on some sneakers, there are many ways brands can thrive from the event.

    • As the Paris Olympics approaches, athletes are being named brand ambassadors, collaborative streetwear capsules are getting released, and the designers of official kits are being announced.
    • Ben Sherman Creative Director Mark Williams describes the valuable association with Team GB, having recently designed their ceremonial uniforms for 3 consecutive Olympic Games — it elevates the brand's own sports offering while engaging with wider audiences.
    • Brands need to think beyond luxury brand ambassadors and designing team uniforms, as these are expensive and sought-after partnerships. Instead, there are a myriad of ways in which the Olympics can be capitalized on such as providing suitcases to teams, like Samsonite.
    • While sports is at the forefront of consumer minds, it is the ultimate opportunity to market sportswear collections, tap into streetwear, and accentuate national pride.
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