China / Society

Netizens criticize Olympic uniforms

By Wang Ying In Shanghai (China Daily) Updated: 2016-08-13 07:35

The Chinese team seen during the opening ceremony of the Rio Olympic Games on Aug 3, 2016.[Photo/Xinhua]

Creator counters critics by saying the clothing echoes traditional Chinese dish

When faced with an overwhelming number of comments vilifying the uniforms worn by the Chinese team at the opening ceremony of the Rio Olympic Games, Ye Chaoying, the designer, reacted calmly.

On Aug 7, the day after the Games opened, Ye reposted an article called "The Hottest Dish" on his account on WeChat, a popular social-networking platform, which likened the red-and-yellow team uniforms to a well-known Chinese dish.

Almost every Chinese person has eaten scrambled eggs with tomatoes, and the traditional dish has now become synonymous with the team's uniform.

"I think the dress is utterly ugly. The opening ceremony should be one of the best occasions to display China's soft power and creative fashions, but dressed in the uniform our sportsmen look like cheap restaurant waiters and waitresses," wrote Chen Cheng, a netizen from Beijing.

Yin Zhengsheng, a professor of art and design at Tongji University in Shanghai, said the uniforms worn at international events such as the Olympics represent a nation's image.

"China has made great efforts to develop top athletes, but that's not enough. The spirit of sports is not only the brilliant performances of a few sportsmen, but also a combination of sporting skills, sportsmanship and charisma," he said.

Ye has designed the uniforms worn by China's athletes at the opening and closing ceremonies of the last three Olympic Games.

He started designing the uniforms for Rio in July 2007, having been selected by Hengyuanxiang Group, the company authorized to make the athletes' official clothing, which outsources work to more than 100 manufacturers.

"By combining more than 1,000 designs that Hengyuanxiang collected globally, I designed eight different styles, and the red-and-yellow version was finally chosen," Ye said.

To his surprise, he has been taunted, slandered and even threatened.

"I suffered a human flesh search (concerted attacks on social media) and strangers have phoned me at 6 am, calling me the 'sinner of the nation'," he said.

The criticism hasn't phased him, though. "Numerous people tried so hard to become volunteers at the Olympics, but failed. I am so lucky and honored to have been part of the Chinese team's preparations," the 42-year-old said.

The 2008 uniform used the red of the Tiananmen Square rostrum for male competitors, and the gold of the stars on the national flag for female participants, while the 2012 unisex version was red with a diffused gold. This year, the design returned to the theme of red for men and gold for women, again using the national flag as the basic color scheme.

"The red-and-yellow was chosen by the nation's decision-makers, but it seems many young Chinese netizens disagreed," said Lin Jian, a fashion columnist in Shanghai. "Many countries' uniforms are produced by well-known brands or designers, but I doubt if our designer and brand represents China's creativity or the Chinese spirit."

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