By Adam Tschorn
November 14, 2017
Burton Snowboards recently took the wraps off the uniforms that will be worn by U.S. snowboarders at the upcoming Winter Olympics, a range of retro-futuristic cold-weather gear that takes inspiration from the space program of the 1960s and ’70s.
The company, based in Burlington, Vt., unveiled the collection at its New York City flagship on Nov. 1, the 100-day-out mark from the start of the global gathering. The most visible pieces of the collection — at least to those watching at home — are the competition jacket and pants that have an iridescent silver shine courtesy of a lightweight aluminum-coated fabric (typically used in audio equipment, according to Burton’s press release) that provides insulation from the elements and reflects light at the same time (as well as sound, the announcement points out, though we’re not entirely sure what the competitive advantage of that would be).
The left sleeve of the jacket is emblazoned with the American flag and the Burton name in a Space Age font evocative of the NASA logo, and a single horizontal stripe of red accents each upper arm of the jacket and each ankle on the pants. (There’s also a fun, hidden detail you probably wouldn’t notice unless you were wearing the jacket: Sewn into the lining is artwork that includes Korean translations of phrases like “Wish me luck!” and “Do you speak English?”)
Layered under those pieces will be Polartec fleece jackets and pants (in navy blue), a quilted lightweight insulator jacket and wool base-layer pieces in a color described as “international orange” (apparently, the same shade used for similar garments in the American space program). Accessories include white leather mitts, fleece gloves with USA patches in the in the aforementioned Space Age font and a long-sleeve T-shirt. Another patch, reminiscent of NASA’s round, blue “meatball” logo but with the Burton name instead, appears on several pieces in the range.
There’s also a fun, spacesuit-inspired, down-insulated one-piece (pictured above center) with a hard-wearing Dyneema fabric exterior that athletes can choose as an alternative competition uniform.
Burton has also designed a separate look for members of the U.S. snowboard team to wear off-slope (you know, for kicking around the Olympic Village) that riffs on the same theme and is anchored by a quilted down jacket with a Dyneema fabric exterior.
This is the fourth time Burton has designed the Olympic uniforms for the U.S. snowboard team, although the uncluttered retro-futuristic aesthetic manages to be a marked departure from the mad-for-plaid look of 2010 and heirloom hippy vibe of 2014 while holding to the through-line of nostalgic Americana that began in 2006 with the company’s baseball uniform-inspired pinstriped outfits for the athletes.
Given the made-in-America controversy that’s followed outfitters of Team USA over the last several Olympics (most memorably Ralph Lauren’s Chinese-made opening ceremony uniforms from the 2012 London Olympics), Burton is up-front about the fact that while its 2018 uniforms were designed here, they were manufactured by its “best, long-standing and most trusted technical partners around the world.” (The company’s announcement doesn’t specify where, exactly, noting only that the fabric for the competition pants and jacket were woven “on a vintage loom in Italy.”
While the uniforms have been chosen, the athletes who will be wearing them have not. The members of the U.S. Olympic snowboard team will be nominated based on a series of qualifier events that are scheduled into late January.
The 2018 Winter Olympics are set to run Feb. 9-25 in Pyeongchang, South Korea.