I’d wager that there are enough Team USA T-shirts and Olympic rings baseball caps forgotten in the back of drawers across America to fill several Olympic-sized swimming pools, such is our nation’s appreciation for merch we don’t really want or need. What’s rarer is the pieces you keep wearing years (or hey, even months) after the games have ended. I’m thinking of the cool vintage Los Angeles ’84 ringer tees you’ve stolen from your dad, the special-edition Adidas Gazelles you’d rock regardless of their patriotic pedigree, or the 2010 Vancouver Olympics Roots mittens that I swear to God every Canadian I know owns and wears to this day (myself included).
Striking the balance between patriotic, thematic, and genuinely stylish is a tall order—but there are a few designers that are doing it really well this year in the lead-up to the 2016 Rio Olympics. The first to really catch my eye was H&M, whose “For Every Victory” collection was created in collaboration with the Swedish Olympic Team. Its muted color palette of black, gray, and pink, sleek color-block and mesh-paneled designs, and subtle gold accents were about as far from the hokey, overly literal pitfalls that brands can sometimes fall into on these occasions—and the fact that I’ve seen NYC girls wear the $35 leggings from the collection with their $60 SoulCycle tanks speaks volumes.
Elsewhere, Ralph Lauren’s Team USA offerings this year include classic striped tees and skinny jeans—two pieces we’re betting you own regardless of whether you’re even a sports fan. For Great Britain, Stella McCartney and Adidas teamed up on cool gilded sweats, shorts, and tees, and for Canada, DSquared2’s Dean and Dan Caten went big and bold with maple-leaf tees and sport jackets. Fashion brands got in on the action unofficially, too: Être Cécile’s Olympics collection features colorful bulldog prints, abstract rings, and cheeky slogans such as “RAPIDE,” while Brazilian line Isolda has patriotic activewear such as embellished tees illustrated with Olympians and Rio-themed shorts.
Ahead, shop 13 of our favorite Olympics capsule collections (all zero percent cheesy—we promise).