Team Canada’s closing ceremony jean jackets have become the subject of social media slander. Are the Olympic outfits terribly Canadian … or just plain…
Terribly Canadian … or just plain terrible?
The Tokyo 2020 Olympics and Paralympics have already been delayed by a year and there’s still a possibility the scheduled replays, set to begin in July and August respectively, will be cancelled due to the coronavirus.
But there was another cancellation that was suggested this week: Canada’s Olympic denim outfits.
Team Canada’s closing ceremony jean jackets, originally released last August, are already a year out of fashion. For many observers on Twitter, they never should have been in fashion.
“I am screaming. This is Canada’s closing ceremony fit. Cancel the Olympics,” said user @ItsTheBrandi in a viral tweet that sparked a widely-engaged conversation.
“This says girl from Saskatoon did her gap year in Japan, and I love it,” said B.C. radio host Brad Karp.
Actually, it’s Canadian swimming star Kylie Masse, whose impressive Olympic debut in Rio de Janeiro saw her take home a bronze medal and a national record in the 100-metre backstroke, wearing the jacket in the staged photo.
How did Canada, whose Olympic outfit drop came more than eight months ago, find themselves in the crosshairs of a particularly lively online fashion discussion? They can blame their neighbours to the south.
To mark 100 days before the Olympic retry in July, Team USA released their Ralph Lauren polo-style uniforms for the closing ceremony on Twitter. Those outfits didn’t fare well among the online crowd either, with critics quick to realize the summer clothes looked more like space suits. Naturally, Canada was dragged into the mix for comparison’s sake, and things got crazy from there.
“They really are leaning into the Canadian tuxedo, huh?” said one Twitter user.
“Did they forget they had to submit something and get these made at a mall kiosk?” asked another.
In the bottomless space of social media, the digs were endless. But what do Canada’s premier athletes — those who will be expected to wear them while marching proudly at the closing ceremony in August — think about the outfit?
“I don’t get it. It’s not my style,” said Olympian Evan Dunfee, of Richmond, B.C. He holds national records in the 50-kilometre and 10,000-metre race walks, but doesn’t hold his fashion sense in high regard. “I didn’t wear a pair of jeans until university so I never put too much stock in my fashion opinions.”
Renee Foessel, a Paralympian from Mississauga who finished fourth in women’s discus at the Rio Games, had her hesitations with the appeal, but dug deeper into the meaning behind the denim tops.
“Do I genuinely enjoy the visual of this jacket? No. Although after researching the rationale to the jacket design, I can appreciate the attempt to collide Tokyo fashion with Canadian fashion,” she said. “Although I do feel this falls short of an attempt to truly capture what those two cultures could look like as a whole.”
In a release last year, Team Canada said the closing ceremony outfit “pays tribute to Tokyo, the fashion-forward host city, in a unique and artistic way.” It’s meant to “showcase the friendship between Canada and Japan” but also “pays homage to Paris,” the host city for the 2024 Olympics.
“Closing ceremony attire is supposed to be fun and casual. This jacket has symbolism and had more thought put into it than people realize,” said Alison Levine, a Paralympic boccia star from Montreal, Que. who also defended the meaning behind the jacket in the comments of a widely shared TikTok post poking fun at the attire. “I think Canada would look pretty awesome parading into the stadium at the closing ceremonies in this jacket.”
If the Games do come back this summer, and a parade of Canadian athletes march together in Olympic Stadium, Canada will likely find themselves at the centre of another social media storm. It’s safe to say the jean jackets will live on forever on the internet.
But will they find sunshine beyond Tokyo or be banished to closets for the rest of eternity?
“I would not necessarily wear this denim jacket outside of the closing ceremonies unless it was within an event that is in celebration or related to sport,” Foessel said.
“I could see someone wearing it on an early fall evening, taking a stroll in the neighbourhood,” added Levine.
“I think the only other time I would wear this jacket is to the Calgary stampede,” said Kelsey Mitchell, an Olympic track cyclist from Brandon, Man., who likened it to “a good ol’ Canadian tuxedo.”
As for Dunfee? He can’t walk fast enough from the idea of having to wear it again.
“Next time I see myself wearing this jacket would be to embarrass my future kids when they bring a partner over to dinner for the first time.”
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