I must admit that when I first saw what our Jamaican athletes would be wearing for the Olympics, the Cedella Marley-Puma designs, like many, I hated them. The feedback online seemed mostly negative also, so it was even more confusing when the designs won the Time magazine poll – best national uniform, though many voters admitted to simply voting for Jamaica, and not so much for the designs.
As we started to see our athletes sporting the outfits in public – on outings in London and its environs, at official events, press meetings, etc, I think many of us had to admit that the styles and colours looked amazingly trendy and truly Jamaican. This was even more pronounced during the opening ceremony, the Jamaican team stood out by far amongst the over 200 national groups parading.
The bold yellow literally popped and the colours of our national flag were well represented in different forms, but the yellow in particular was cheerful and screamed brilliance. Yellow is not a colour one would think of immediately for a top or a jacket, especially for the guys, but Cedella Marley pulled it off, and the team looked classy overall.
I understand that many countries also had controversies with their national outfits and designers, even the USA whose Ralph Lauren-inspired designs seemed sombre and uninspiring, and way too French, especially with the beret which is not a traditional American style. There were other big-name designers behind some of the countries’ uniforms, including Prada, Georgio Armani and Stella McCartney.
I therefore must commend Cedella Marley, for first of all thinking “outside the box”. Even if she anticipated criticism, she managed to pull it off in the end, while standing head and shoulders amongst some of the world’s best designers. She also remained true to our “easy-going” vibe and our culture, while considering the practicality and “wearability”, and perhaps even the cooler climate of the host city, London. By creating different styles within the same theme, she also gave the athletes options rather than going with monotonous tones. The black militant jacket for men presented a look that was fun, but also showed seriousness about the battle ahead. At the end of the ceremony, I do believe many viewers remembered Team Jamaica's grand entrance, and the designs certainly helped. Let’s hope this spirit will carry right throughout the rest of the games!