Ralph Lauren has debuted its Opening Ceremony uniform for the U.S. Olympic Team and is using the occasion to launch new cooling technology. “RL Cooling” uses a device similar to those in computers — their words, not ours — in order to monitor and regulate the temperature within the jacket it’s rigged to. More specifically, the device removes heat from the wearer’s skin rather like an air conditioner removes hot air from a room. This high-tech approach to cooling should be a godsend in the heat of Tokyo’s summer, but it’ll be given to one sole member of Team USA.
Flag bearer Katie Ledecky will wear the white denim jacket equipped with RL Cooling, while the rest of Team USA will have to wear a blazer, striped shirt, and scarf that makes them look like flight attendants. This means no proprietary temperature regulation for the overwhelming majority of American athletes — but hey, at least they won’t look as ridiculous as Team Canada with its denim-on-denim look.
The lone RL Cooling jacket that’ll be worn for the July 23 Opening Ceremony isn’t the first time Ralph Lauren has turned to machines instead of materials for temperature optimization. At the 2018 Winter Olympics, the brand debuted a jacket with a battery-powered heating system that lasts for 11 hours on a single charge. You can now buy a version inspired by NASA spacesuits and that works in sync with a dedicated app for $1,100.
At least the uniforms are sustainable — While the rest of Team USA looks at Ledecky’s cooling jacket in envy, they’ll at least be able to say that the clothes they’re wearing are sustainable. The striped T-shirt to be worn underneath the wool (!) blazer was made with a pre-treatment solution that allows the cotton to be dyed with less water, chemicals, and energy. Recycled polyester sourced from water bottles is used for the striped belts, while the denim pants feature a back patch made out of a leather alternative called Mirum.
All of Ralph Lauren’s Opening Ceremony gear is already up for sale, save for the RL Cooling jacket. Prices start at $90 for the striped T-shirt and top out at $695 for the wool blazer — and you can bet the denim jacket with a computer fan it will cost nearly double that whenever it is made available to purchase.