2008 Olympians above, left to right: Bradley Wiggins - track and road bicycle racer, John McFall - Paralympic sprinter, Heather Fell - modern pentathlon, Tom Daley - diving (10m platform), Victoria Pendleton - track cyclist, Liz Yelling - marathon, Chris Tomlinson - long jump.The right costume can make all the difference. When people think of Princess Leia popular culture suggests that it's the metal bikini from the Return of the Jedi that she's dressed in, it's hard to think of Borat without at least momentarily dwelling on his own addition to the swimsuit repertoire, guitarist Slash is almost inseparable from his top hat and Janet Jackson can tell you about the trouble you get into when your costume misbehaves.
In sport as well as entertainment some outfits become iconic. Seventies golfer Gary Player was famous for his all black apparel, Andre Agassi sported garish dayglo garb everywhere except Wimbledon, where he was suddenly as traditionally kitted out in pristine white as would seem possible and Manchester United made sure that Eric Cantona always had a shirt collar to turn up. In the world of athletics a well known directory enquiries company were chastised by Ofcom after complaints by former long distance runner David Bedford that they had used without permission in their advertising:
a comically exaggerated representation of him looking like he did in the 1970s... wearing running kit almost identical to the running kit that was distinctively worn by him at the time, including red socks, sky-blue shorts with gold braiding and a vest with 2 hoops.
One would imagine that any sportswear manufacturer would privately be delighted that their designs were held to be so recognisable thirty years after they were introduced and so it is that Adidas, proudly unveiling Team GB's threads for the imminent Beijing Olympics in their central London store yesterday morning, are doubtless hoping that some of the leading medal contenders modelling their wares will produce striking images of victory and endeavour to be rerun for decades to come. At the very least they'd hope to avoid the furore generated at the launch of the official London 2012 logo and the general mood of the media in attendance at this event seems to have been one of approval, possibly aided and abetted by the early breakfast time ambience and the patiently good-natured affability of the athletic representatives on show, the centre of attention being high board diver Tom Daley, who must surely be well on his way to a gold in the "World's Most Warmly Self-Assured Fourteen Year Old" competition.
One surprise, to us at least, was the sheer number of different outfits required these days. The likes of Superman and Batman have made do with just the one costume each for almost a century, but not only do today's kit makers have to come up with the obligatory fabric that deals with heat, humidity and bodily fluids better than any other that was previously the ultimate, but they also have to design for the various environments our sporting superheroes may encounter and also for both sexes in all sizes, though definitely only one (outrageously fit) shape. It's probably just as well, then, that, as you can see from the slogan below, this official gear will only apparently be available to similarly successful and well-limbered physiques and not to the likes of us couch potatoes, which should at least save us from making dummies of ourselves this summer.
Many thanks to Anne Johnstone for attending this photocall for Londonist. Visit her Flickrstream here.