The comments in the title are not mine, they are two of the hundreds that have been made about the Jamaican Olympic outfits in the past few days.
I’m wading into dangerous waters here, not being a fashionista! Not even close. So let me hasten to say this is more about the reactions to the designs done by Cedella Marley (yes, Bob’s daughter) for the Jamaican Olympic team, than the designs themselves.
I can’t remember there EVER being this kind of reaction to an Olympic outfit. In fact, I was hard pressed to remember what any Olympic outfit has ever looked like, until an Olympian posted that she liked these a lot better than the yellow blazers they always used to wear at the opening ceremonies (very hazy picture in my mind now of said yellow blazers)
There has been an outpouring of negative reaction to the photo of track star Usain Bolt in a pair of yellow trousers, trimmed with black, coupled with a green top also trimmed with black, as he stands beside a female model in a print skirt with indecipherable yellow designs (leaves? crayfish?) on a black background, and a black top with green trimmings. Hey, don’t knock my descriptions! I told you I’m not a fashionista. Let me just show you the picture.
The comments have been overwhelmingly negative. Here’s a tiny, tiny sample.
“Future style! Think Star Trek! Come on folks, going where no country has gone before!”
“Looking too futuristic. Does not reflect Jamaica. Not saying I hate it, but I don’t like it, especially for Jamaica 50.”
“It makes Usain look like an overgrown schoolboy from Mars, accompanied by a female prison warder from Pluto.”
‘Mi nuh like it! I really don’t think it truly represents the vibrant spirit and unique persona of the Jamaican team. It really appears to be a space age police uniform”
Some people do like them, saying they are “fashion forward” and in line with the current “colour blocking craze” and “military style” (comments from conversations I’ve had with fans of the outfits who say that the critcs just don’t know style. Maybe they’re right.
After all, the fashion folks at the Huffington Post loved them, raving about the “fabulous new uniforms designed by Cedella Marley” and unequivocally stating that:
“…while the sleek uniforms were created with optimal performance and comfort in mind, they are super stylish to boot. We’re loving the flashy prints, flattering silhouettes and saturated Jamaican flag colors represented in every piece.”
By the way, that story also has a slide show of the entire collection, so you may want to check it out if you haven’t seen it yet.
And some Jamaicans like them as well. There are also comments like this, albeit much fewer:
“You know what, they are cute, picture them walking in with our flag at the opening ceremony, we will stand out!”
But why do we care?
Well, in case people haven’t noticed, Jamaicans have become fiercely interested in our track and field athletes in particular, since the super success of the past decade. Many more Jamaicans are now following track and field, debating Asafa’s performance as I said in my post here, following Usain’s personal life as I commented on here, and feel tremendously buoyed by our successes on the international scene.
This is to be welcomed, of course. It’s good for the sport, it’s good for the country, and it’s (usually) good for the athletes. I can remember thinking in years gone by that I would like to see athletes endorsing products instead of models. Now we see images of our athletes everywhere.
But you can’t have it both ways. That level of interest will apply to everything related to track and field. That includes uniforms the fashionistas say are cutting edge, but many Jamaicans just see as ugly. I know we are also sending athletes to the Olympics in taekwondo, the equestrian events, and swimming, but I doubt there would have been this much interest over what our equestrian athlete was going to wear (no offence!)
And we’re an outspoken people. If we don’t like it, we’re going to say things like:
“I think these are the worst designs of all time. These nuh mek it at all.”
Would it be better if we all decided to throw our weight behind the designs, like them or not? I don’t think so. Chalk it up to my profession, but I’m big on freedom of speech and spirited debate. If we don’t let it be known when we think things aren’t being done right, there won’t be any change next time.
I’ve heard people asking what the athletes think. I haven’t heard yet, but you know what? Even if all the athletes came out en masse and said they love the designs, this is not just about them. They are there representing Jamaica. This may be a little uncomfortable for Ms. Marley and the folks at Puma, but it’s our national team, We have a right to voice our opinion. And we certainly are doing so!
So what do you think? Do you like the designs?
- Usain Bolt unveils Jamaica’s Olympics kit designed by Bob Marley’s daughter (guardian.co.uk)
- Puma pins Olympic hopes on Bolt to speed sport sales (telegraph.co.uk)