The Team USA flagbearers in steamy Tokyo are likely to be the coolest members of their packs. Ralph Lauren has built a personal air conditioning system into a roomy white jacket to be worn by the as yet unannounced athletes who will have that honour during opening ceremonies for the Olympics and Paralympics. The technology disperses heat from the wearer’s skin through a fan at the back of the neck, with a lightweight personal battery controller stashed inside. It’s akin to how large computers are kept cool. The rest of the team will walk in tailored navy blazers made of US-grown wool, a red Olympic patch on one breast and the company’s Polo Pony emblem on the other. They’ll wear a horizontal blue-and-white striped T-shirt dyed in a process that uses less water, chemicals and energy than usual, slim blue denim pants and a flag-print scarf. The athletes’ striped belts are made of recycled plastic water bottles. A patch on the back of the pants is a nod to leather alternatives, this one made of plant-based materials and agricultural by-products free of synthetic plastics. 10 big names who will not be at Tokyo Olympics And Ralph Lauren didn’t forget the masks. They’ll be solid navy in cotton with a tiny American flag on one side. The company went for crisp white looks with red and blue accents for the closing ceremony uniforms, which will be worn by more than 600 Olympic athletes, along with the Paralympians. Team USA organisers wanted the athletes to “feel red, white and blue” at the world’s coming out party, Lauren said ahead of the formal unveiling. The sentiment comes amid growing concern over the spread of Covid-19 just days before the Games open on July 23. The Paralympics are set to begin on August 24. “They wanted products that were completely sustainable, completely future-oriented and completely about innovation,” Lauren said via Zoom. The parade uniforms were made in the US. Ralph Lauren has been outfitting Team USA since 2008. At a Polo Ralph Lauren store in New York, Olympians Daryl Homer and Peter Westbrook recently showed off the Tokyo looks, stressing comfort and recalling the thrill of their past marches with the American teams during the Parade of Nations. Homer, a silver medal-winning sabre fencer, will be making his third Olympic appearance in Tokyo. In 1984, Westbrook was the first African American to win a medal (bronze) in the sport and served as flag-bearer. He now trains Olympic fencing hopefuls. Westbrook recalled his Olympic walk as an overwhelming feeling of unity and pride. If you can cool yourself, why cool a room? I think that’s a really cool thing Daryl Homer, Olympic fencer “And then, the creme de la creme, you have to fight one another. With love,” he said. “It’s the most beautiful thing one can experience.” Homer called the uniforms “very comfortable, very breathable”. The much discussed beret each American athlete received for the opening ceremony in London in 2012 was one of his favourite Olympic pieces. “I think this is my second favourite,” he smiled. It was at the London Games where Ralph Lauren took some heat for decking out the US athletes in uniforms made in China. The team outfits – without the cooling element in the flag-bearer jacket – are available at Ralph Lauren stores, department stores and online at RalphLauren.com and TeamUSAShop.com. Homer tried on the flag-bearer jacket and loves the concept. “If you can cool yourself, why cool a room? I think that’s a really cool thing,” he said. The five-year gap rather than the usual four between Olympics has been challenging for Homer, along with the pared-down fanfare and pandemic protocols planned for Tokyo, he said. “Everyone’s really anxious to get out there to compete,” he said. “One of the positives is the next Games in Paris is in three years, in 2024.” The US is not the only team to enlist a top designer to make their uniforms. Giorgio Armani is the official outfitter of the Italian team, whose members will wear tracksuits and accessories from the designer’s EA7 Emporio Armani line, which specialises in performance wear. French label Lacoste, long associated with tennis, and sportswear brand Le Coq Sportif have partnered for the design of the uniforms worn by French Olympians, riffing on the red, white and blue of the French flag. The UK team is also going to sport pieces featuring patterns inspired by its flag, the Union flag. They were designed by British brand Ben Sherman, known for preppy and affordable clothing.