When Stella McCartney was designing the 2012 Summer Olympic uniforms for Team Great Britain, she consulted the people who would be most affected by them: the athletes who will wear them. Apparently, she should have consulted a psychologist instead.
Ever since the sleek, Union Jack-inspired uniforms made their debut last week, sports psychologists have criticizing McCartney for not including enough red.
Their reasons for wanting more red in the mostly-blue unis aren’t just to more equally represent all of the colors of the host country’s flag. Professor Robert Barton of the University of Durham co-authored a paper reporting that athletes who wear red are more likely to win. By using blue as the dominant color, Barton believes the designer may have doomed Team GB to fewer medals.
In an interview with Vogue, McCartney said, “I wanted to ask what matters to them—whether it might psychologically improve their performance to look good, what I needed to do to work around the rules and regulations of each discipline, and all their technical requirements. Some told me, yeah, if I look better it helps. Others said I don’t care how I look as long as I can shave off a second.” If they had any preference for a color, they didn’t say — and they seem satisfied with the look in an Adidas video about the making of the uniforms (below).
Most countries wear Olympic uniforms that feature the colors of their flags, which would seem to place those with no red in their flags at a disadvantage. But the psychological boost of wearing red can only help an athlete so much — Olympic victory is the result of years of training that a uniform’s hue cannot undo.
Olympic uniforms have been under increased scrutiny with every games, as fashion designers and artists get increasingly involved in transforming functional sportswear into fashion for athletes who are just emerging as celebrities. But instead of clouding their criticism of McCartney’s designs with psychology, why don’t the Brits come out and say it? They just don’t like her designs. In the Olympics, country and patriotism come before couture.