Ralph Lauren to design Team USA’s official Olympic team uniforms

IRVINE, Calif. (AP) — Decathlete Bryan Clay spends his days in spandex, while Ryan Lochte pulls on a swimsuit like he’s been doing since he was 8 years old. They’ll be looking a lot spiffier, along with the rest of the U.S. Olympic team, at next year’s London Games.

Clay and Lochte, along with swimmer Rebecca Soni and gymnast Jonathan Horton, are among 12 Olympic and Paralympic athletes sponsored by Ralph Lauren, who has designed the official uniforms for the American team to wear in the opening and closing ceremonies in London.

At a recent photo shoot on the track at UC Irvine, Clay posed in a navy polo shirt that sported the word London on the back.

Lochte, a fashion fiend outside the pool, cut an elegant figure in white slacks, a white polo with the collar popped, white tennis shoes and a new closely cropped `do.

“It’s a real clean-cut look and I like that,” he said. “It’s definitely a different look for me, but I think I can pull it off. I also like dressing up and looking nice.”

Lauren has also created apparel and accessories for American athletes to wear in the Olympic village.

“What I really enjoy about the clothing is that it allows me to show a different side of myself,” Clay said. “We as athletes get kind of pigeonholed into this one area where we’re only athletes and we only wear athletic clothes. I like to go out and I like to dress up and I like to look nice and my wife likes it. The clothes look good and they make me feel good. Hopefully, I’ll be able to go out and compete good.”

Clay will be out to defend his gold medal in decathlon. He won a silver medal at the 2004 Athens Games and will try to become the first decathlete to earn a medal in three consecutive Olympics.

The Lauren sponsorship has been a learning experience for Clay, a 31-year-old father of three who has never considered himself a clothes horse.

“I didn’t really know a whole lot about fashion,” he said. “I’m starting to learn more and I’m starting to actually realize that I kind of like a little bit of fashion. I like to know what’s trendy and now I’m starting to know what colors look good together.”

It’s the third time Lauren has been the official outfitter for the American teams, having designed clothing for the 2010 Vancouver Games and 2008 Beijing Olympics.

Lauren’s vintage-inspired design for London features a red, white and blue color palette and includes T-shirts, polos, shorts, pants, sweaters, outerwear, eyewear, totes, luggage, footwear, hats, belts and beach towels. The apparel is made of high-performance fabrics and lightweight materials.

“It makes me feel more mature,” said Lochte, known for his goofiness. “Hopefully down the road I can still wear this kind of clothing with a little bit more of my personality.”

The 27-year-old six-time Olympic medalist from Florida already has his own shoe line. He’d like to expand into clothing after London while still training for a shot at the 2016 Rio Olympics.

“I think I have a real good eye about what people are wearing and what pretty much looks good,” Lochte said. “It’s nothing I studied. It’s kind of my personal outlook. I have a real creative mind. I kind of wear what I like. More and more athletes and people outside of sports are starting to see that.”

Lochte has been known to sport diamond-encrusted grillz on his teeth on the medals podium at swim meets, although he’ll have to follow team appearance rules in London.

“I won’t be able to wear my outrageous shoes or jewelry, but if I do get on the awards stand I might spice it up a little,” he said, smiling. “I’m going to have to, I mean, that’s me.”

When he needs to get away from the pool, Lochte enjoys drawing and has been working on ideas for his future clothing line.

The U.S. Olympic collection will be available at select Lauren retail stores and on the company’s website starting May 15, except for the opening ceremony clothing, which won’t be unveiled until July.

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