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Burton's Denim Look Remains Popular a Year Later Hot

Burton Olympic UniformsAs a journalist covering the Vancouver Olympics, my sole focus centered on headlines made by athletes through their achievement in competition.

To me, the Olympics are about Sidney Crosby, gold medals, fastest times and country pride – there is no room for uniforms in my Olympic equation. I’m simply not interested in the correlating couture.

And never once did it occur to me that style could, and would, actually trump substance. That form, was truly more important than function.

Enter Canadian Mittens, Norwegian Curling Pants, and, of course, Team USA’s Snowboarding uniforms, replete with faux-denim bottoms and the red-white-and-blue flannel-patterned jacket courtesy of Burton.

Everywhere I turned, folks were more interested in finding those sold-out mittens in stores or commenting on how awesomely tacky the plaid curling pants were.

And, while the Norwegian Curlers’ argyle ensemble quite literally created an instantaneous fashion trend – both on the streets of Vancouver and worldwide – Team USA’s wardrobe drew its fair share of criticism, leaving many wondering “What were they thinking?”

Here’s exactly what Burton was thinking in regard to design, from their official press release that coincided with the public unveiling in 2009:

“The Olympic uniforms feature a fresh and progressive style while also managing to pay tribute to more classic Americana fashion staples. The pants seamlessly integrate the look of real, worn, vintage denim, and  the jackets feature preppy plaids adorned with leather patches and chenille crests with both pieces incorporating the performance benefits of Gore-Tex fabric.”

Burton's Creative Director Greg Dasychyn went on to say, “This is snowboarding. It's never been a uniform sport, so we wanted to create a look that would reflect those unique qualities of our sport, but still capture a classic American feel."

Burton began the task of reinventing Team USA’s snowboard image in 2006 and actually focus-grouped the jacket and pants with the likes of professional snowboarders, including Elena Hight, Danny Davis, Kevin Pearce, Scotty Lago, and Louie Vito.

Not a veto in the group, they all signed off.

Still, I was surprised that Burton pushed ahead with the look, until I discovered what a hot item the pants are in the company’s online retail store (unfortunately the jacket is not for sale).

A visit to the site revealed a complete sell-out for both men and women, despite the controversy and disdain from the general population. If you are able to get your paws on a pair, they come in sizes S-XL for men and S-L for the ladies, for the not-so-reasonable price of US $249.95.

The wild success of this item is also interesting given that Jake Burton, founder of the company, originally said they would not be sold stating, “Our focus is not on uniforms.”

I bet he’s glad he changed his mind.


-Ryan O'Leary

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