The US Olympic Snowboarding Uniforms Were Almost Elvis Jumpsuits

Here's what the US Olympic snowboarding team will be wearing next year. It's cooler than we expected, but could have been even cooler.
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Dhani Mau
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Here's what the US Olympic snowboarding team will be wearing next year. It's cooler than we expected, but could have been even cooler.

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On Tuesday night, Burton Snowboards unveiled the uniforms that will be worn by the US Olympic Snowboarding Team during the upcoming 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi. The launch event for the new duds, held at Burton's Soho store, was far from your typical fashion cocktail party: The hors d'oeuvres included mini grilled cheeses with tiny American flags in them, the drinks were served in plastic cups and most of the attendees were straight men in beanies.

Yet, it was a perfect representation of the Burton brand and snowboarding culture. So, too, were the surprisingly creative uniforms themselves. Jake Burton Carpenter founded the Burton brand out of a barn in Vermont, where it's still based (Vermont, not a barn). And while his snowboarding gear is sold all over the world, it has a distinct Americana, heritage aesthetic. Thus, for their third turn designing the US team uniforms, Carpenter and Chief Creative Officer Gred Dacyshyn looked to the brand's roots.

An old patchwork quilt, on display at the event, was the starting point for the uniforms. "I knew I wanted it to be really authentic, and we go to a lot of antique vintage fairs for inspiration for the whole line, so I found a really cool quilt," Dacyshyn explained. "But it wasn't quite perfect, so we took it back to Vermont and one kid who's a graphic designer has a grandma who's a master quilt-maker, so she deconstructed it and pieced it together the way we wanted it to be."

From there, they printed the same pattern onto the down jackets, which are actually one of a kind. "The jackets are all cut from different points on the marker, so no two jackets will be the same. They'll all have an individual quality, which has always been my goal: for them to look like a team, but not look like clones of each other." He also designed a variety of beanies because "not everyone looks good in every hat." The whole "kit," which also includes corduroy-like pants, henleys and gloves, has what Dacyshyn described as a "a little bit of a Vermont hippie vibe."

But that wasn't always the direction he wanted to go in. Carpenter mentioned that Dacyshyn "agonized" over the process, and brought him several other "lame, terrible" ideas, so we pressed Carpenter to give us an example, and it's pretty bad: "Sort of an Elvis in Las Vegas regalia, with a giant flying eagle on the back," he admitted while spreading his arms out to his sides. "It's fun to sort of think about these things."

We're glad he went with this concept, which is actually a lot more interesting than we expected (maybe we've never really watched snowboarding before, but we will now!). Click through the gallery for more photos.