The shooter Therese Lundqvist competing in a Li-Ning outfit. Photo: Scanpix
London 2012

China brand cramping Sweden's Olympic style?

3:49 min

With Sweden's medal chances potentially fading, some are hoping for the team to at least score some fashion points. For the past four years, Sweden's outfits have been made by the Chinese sports brand Li-Ning, and not everyone is happy about it.

At the opening ceremony of the 2012 Olympics, many saw focused athletes, flags swaying in the air, a massive torch, the British queen and a cast of 15,000 performers. But some were focused on the catwalk.

Lotta Ahlvar, the head of he Swedish Fashion Council, saw the ceremony as a chance to make a fashion statement. And, according to her, Sweden blew it.

"If you are sending out the best athletes, why not send out the best design as well?" she asks.

It was the Chinese sports clothing brand Li-Ning that designed Sweden's clothes, with help from the Swedish designer Eva Christensson. Christensson has designed Sweden's Olympic outifts since 1998 – but for the past four years, it's Li-Ning that has got its logo on the clothes.

That, says Lotta Ahlvar at the Fashion Council, spells a missed opportunity to showcase the booming fashion industry here.

"China is great as a manufacturer, and at designing clothes as well. But when it comes to an event like this, I think it should have been a Swedish designer to do it."

According to the Swedish Olympic committee's chairman, Stefan Lindberg, the crux is that while Swedish clothing companies are willing to design the clothes, they have not been willing to pay for the production. That is the deal the Swedish Olympic Committee wants.

"If there was an upcoming Swedish designer and a producer willing to do this, and sponsor us with the equipment, we would very much look into that option", Lindeberg said. "We have to have a strong economic partner to finance the equipment."

And Sweden is not the only country to miss out on a bit of self-promotion during the Olympics.

Spain's outfits – subject to some ridicule on the internet, and even by some of the team's own athletes – were designed by the Russian company Bosco.

And while Team Great Britain look dapper in outfits designed by Stella McCartney, it was the German company Adidas that got the logo on the front.

Stefan Lindeberg said Sweden's Olympic Committee is currently negotiating a new clothing deal for upcoming Games.

Though he would not mention which designers are being considered, the message is clear: If you are after the ad space on the clothes, pay for them yourself.

By Sven Hultberg Carlsson

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