LONDON (Reuters) - Atrocious.
At least that’s the verdict of one of London’s dedicated followers of fashion on the uniforms doled out to over 90,000 staff of the Olympic Games.
For the tsars and tsaritsas of British fashion, the outfits — either a juxtaposition of purple and red on sports jackets or constellations of pink and magenta diamonds on unfitted t-shirts — are an insult to London’s reputation as the hippest city on earth.
“Atrocious, artless, cynical,” is the way Stephen Bayley, one of Britain’s leading voices on style, taste and contemporary design, described the uniforms.
“Look as though they were made for a Sacha Baron Cohen parody,” Bayley told Reuters, referring to the Cambridge-educated comedian behind fictional characters such as Ali G and Borat.
Bayley, co-founder of London’s Design Museum, added that the Olympic logo, advertisements and car designs were also failures unlikely to win gold in any Olympian design contest.
Londoners pride themselves on living in one of the world’s most elegant cities: from the tailors of kings on Savile Row to the “freshest” designers of the London’s ever-so-hip East End.
“In all the areas where we are thought to excel, the Olympics shows weakness, lame thinking and lack of enterprise,” Bayley said.
He is not alone: Members of the British public took to the social networking site Twitter to air their dismay too.
“Seen a few Olympic volunteers, the outfits they have to wear are awful, purple shell suit, chinos and chunky trainers anyone?” said one Twitter user, Steven Joyce, after noticing a volunteer on the street.
“The shirts the Olympic volunteers have to wear are tragic,” added another, Matt Page.
The purple and red uniforms, worn by 70,000 volunteers, 6,000 staff and 4,500 technical officials, were produced by sportswear label Adidas and designed by the London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games (LOCOG).
The pink and magenta creations, for 11,000 Olympics ambassadors charged with helping visitors make the most of their time in various Games locations across Britain, were designed to stand out and reflect Britain’s sporting heritage.
“The feedback we’ve received from our games makers has been great - our volunteers love their uniforms,” a LOCOG spokeswoman told Reuters.
A spokesman for Adidas said that, while the company produced the volunteer uniforms, the design brief was issued by LOCOG.
When asked what he thought of the red and purple uniform, one Olympic volunteer said: “Not very nice at all. Let’s just put it this way: I wouldn’t wear this garment to go anywhere outside these Olympics.”
“Red and purple is a bit of a fashion clash but it is quite comfortable to wear,” added another, who asked for her name not to be used because she was not supposed to speak to the media.
The uniforms are not the only clothes attracting criticism.
Spanish canoe sprinter Saul Craviotto tweeted a picture of himself wearing Spain’s red and yellow patterned outfit: “At home trying on my Olympics clothes. It’s best if I don’t give an opinion, I will leave it up to you.”.
Russia’s offerings of swirling cherry red lines have made the Time magazine “ugly” list.
London’s fashion police has also set its sights on other Olympian design faux pas.
After the official Olympics 2012 logo was unveiled in 2007, 50,000 people in two days signed a petition to scrap it.
The logo, designed by Wolff Olins, features jagged abstract shapes forming the numerals of 2012 in bright shades of pink, green, blue and orange with a yellow outline.
Designed to appeal to a modern Internet generation, the logo was reported by local media to have cost 400,000 pounds ($626,700).
“We have terrible, wince-making ads. The worst graphics in the history of design. A terrible font,” Bayley said.
Wolff Olins told Reuters Bayley was missing the point.
“Our intention was to take the Olympics off the podium, out of the stadium onto the streets into people’s hands,” a spokesperson for the brand consultancy said.
“These are Olympics like no other, these are everyone’s Olympics, with unprecedented levels of participation. Our work conveys and encourages that.”
So far, the London Olympic Games have cost the British taxpayer more than 9 billion pounds ($13.9 billion), an outlay, which has been criticized as excessive in a time of government budget cuts and the paring back of public services.
“Given the commitment of money, it should have been a demonstration of excellence. Instead, it does not in these areas rise even to the level of mediocrity,” Bayley said.
The loose-fitting uniforms for Olympics volunteers and staff appear to have been made on a one-size-fits-all basis, but British athletes have seen no expense spared in the creation of their team kits.
Team GB stepped into the sporting limelight wearing a subtle medley of blue, white and red, created by high-profile British designer Stella McCartney, who based her work on the British flag, the Union Jack.
McCartney’s creations have been broadly well-received, but even they have not escaped.
Tour de France winner and Britain’s most decorated athlete Bradley Wiggins, cheekily tweeted: “Stella was a bit Lucy in the Sky when she knocked this one up.”
Editing by Guy Faulconbridge, Paul Casciato and Peter Millership