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Fashion companies go for gold at Olympics

August 04, 2004|Samantha Critchell | Associated Press

NEW YORK — The Olympics -- and its potentially enormous audience -- is too tempting for fashion and beauty companies to pass up.

So, as the world watches Athens and the Games' star athletes (most of whom are wearing rather bland team-issued uniforms) it also will see product-placement galore. Some are real Olympic-sanctioned pieces of history, some pay homage to the Games and some are Greek brands looking for their turn in the spotlight.

Among them:

* Swatch Group companies' affiliation with the Olympics dates back to the 1932 Games in Los Angeles when they provided stopwatches; now Swatch gets the title of Official Timekeeper of the International Olympic Committee.

The Swatch collection available to the public celebrates Greek history, culture and the first modern Olympic Games, held in Athens in 1896. The color palette includes the blues and greens of the sea, bright and sunny yellows, oranges and reds, and white, representing the small island villages under the moon. Also, browns and grays of the earth and sand that ancient temples were built with are prominently featured.

* Adidas is an official outfitter for the U.S. Olympians this year, providing award, training and "Olympic Village" clothes to each American athlete. Adidas also is dressing athletes from 20 other countries.

The company's ClimaCool fabric technology, with moisture-wicking properties and strategically placed ventilation, will be incorporated into the outfits of the U.S. weightlifting, gymnastics, boxing and fencing teams, as well as in their sneakers.

That same technology is used for the logo-covered apparel available to spectators and supporters, including the Olympic podium jacket and pants, which are embroidered with the Athens 2004 symbol.

* Reebok is providing uniforms for the U.S. basketball team; track and field teams from Spain, Croatia, Sweden and Poland; gymnastics teams from Korea, Russia and Poland; and U.S. tennis star Andy Roddick, among others.

For the public, Reebok introduces its Gold sneaker collection, with names like Gold Medalist, Vanta, the boxing-inspired Super Knockout and water-sport-inspired Splash. The shoes are white with metallic gold accents.

* Blue Marlin incorporates the olive wreath, the highest honor bestowed on Olympic winners by the Greeks, in the logo for its fall collection of activewear.

* Camper offers flip-flops as part of its Twins collection with the insoles of each sandal stamped with a vintage Olympic image. The simple leather straps also evoke the footwear of ancient Greeks.

* Escada's Mykonos accessories collection, based on white and turquoise, is inspired by the island's whitewashed limestone houses and the nearby sparkling sea. Pieces include jeweled strappy sandals and a feathered handbag with gemstone handle.

* Nu Skin Enterprises licensed 19 personal care products as part of an agreement with the U.S. Olympic Committee, including Epoch IceDancer Invigorating Leg Gel and Firewalker Moisturizing Foot Cream.

Through Nu Skin's Force for Good Foundation, the company's philanthropic arm, 25 cents of every IceDancer and Firewalker product sale is earmarked for future U.S. Paralympians and Olympians.

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